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Afghanistan veteran running for Newmarket council

Chris Dupee, who started a mental health clinic for veterans and first responders, is running against incumbent Trevor Morrison in Ward 4 in the Oct. 24 municipal election
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Veteran Chris Dupee, standing by a wall at his mental health clinic, has put his name forward to run for Newmarket council.

Chris Dupee said he wants to take a further step in taking part in democracy.

The Afghanistan veteran started up a mental-health centre aimed at veterans and first-responders in Newmarket in recent years. But he said after seeing what some of his veteran friends have done in politics, he wants to take a new step: a run for municipal office.

“Instead of standing on the sidelines, seeing all these decisions made, why not be part of it?” Dupee said. “I have enough experience, a lot of life experience to be able to put a good judgment on things.”

Dupee formally filed his nomination papers to run in Ward 4 June 7 for the Oct. 24 municipal election, where he will go up against incumbent Trevor Morrison. 

The mental health advocate has worked to expand his Newmarket business for several years but said he has put top people in the place to run it. Instead, he said he hopes to make a difference at the council.

“I’ve spent all of my post-service leading in terms of a mental-health movement,” he said. “I did that, by only being honest and vulnerable, and I found that my vulnerability became my superpower.

“I do know what the bottom feels like. I do understand darkness,” he added. “But personally, I look at darkness in the past tense now.” 

Dupee said he was born and raised in Newmarket, only leaving for his military career, missing out on some of the town’s growth. But he said he remains well connected to the community and Ward 4, where he resides. 

“I’m adaptable enough to understand that everybody has different needs,” he said, adding he is particularly concerned about residents getting pushed out by landlords selling their homes due to high prices.

“I’m seeing so many people leaving the town, leaving the province … That literally breaks my heart. My own mother is in that position.”

As a councillior, Dupee said he would like to address housing affordability and have a place for booted tenants to stay while they transition, though does not have an exact idea of how to do so. 

But one issue Dupee said he wants to change is getting a cannabis store in town, something the current council decided against in 2019. A medical cannabis user himself, he said it has not hindered him from being successful. 

“I’m not any of the stereotypes,” he said. “I’m running for council. I’m not a stoner.”

He added he would like to ensure residents can get cannabis from a safe source, rather than a street dealer. He said he recently encountered such a dealer who approached him.

“This is why I want a dispensary in town so that people can at least have an option of getting government-regulated, safe cannabis, not whatever random stuff that fella was selling,” he said. 

Dupee said he would also like to hand out commendations as a councillor to individuals doing good work in the community.

As this is his first council run, Dupee said he is ready to learn.

“This is new territory,” he said. “Fear tells me I stand no chance. But when I get past fear, I think I stand a chance. I think if people get to know me, they’ll see where my heart is at.”