It turns out Newmarket’s downtown shows off pretty well.
On the first official day of Canada’s 43rd general election, Newmarket-Aurora Liberal candidate and three-term former Newmarket mayor Tony Van Bynen was joined by three-term Don Valley East MPP and Ontario Liberal leadership candidate Michael Coteau for a stroll along Main Street yesterday.
The walk kicked off at Riverwalk Commons, where a young mother and her baby were getting their toes wet in the water, and others lounged in chairs in the square soaking up the late-summer sunshine.
“This is great that you have a place like this where people can get together,” Coteau said, who was in York Region for the day in support of a handful of federal Liberal candidates, including former health minister and MPP Dr. Helena Jaczek, who is running in Markham-Stouffville after losing her provincial seat in the 2018 election, and Dr. Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux, an Indigenous academic running in York-Simcoe.
But make no mistake, the idyllic setting is in stark contrast to a region that is regarded as a key battleground for federal Liberals in its nine ridings, including Newmarket-Aurora.
As Van Bynen made his way up Main Street, popping into local businesses to say hello and drop off campaign material, he addressed the controversy surrounding the deepening SNC-Lavalin affair with NewmarketToday.
Just that morning before the federal election was called, Conservative Party Leader Andrew Scheer told media that Liberal Party Leader Justin Trudeau “has lost the moral authority to govern” and that Canadians “cannot trust Justin Trudeau”, in reference to Trudeau being found by Canada’s ethics boss to be in violation of the Conflict of Interest Act over his involvement in that case.
On the subject of trust, Van Bynen said, “Trust is a one-on-one thing, I don’t know enough about the SNC-Lavalin issue to understand what’s going on there and, for me, it’s important that people make a local decision first and trust me as their local representative to take our issues to Ottawa”.
Van Bynen said for people who know him and his 18-year-record, his “word is his bond”.
“In terms of transparency and openness, I’ve had mayor in the square, where people could come and talk to me about any of the issues. ...Very clearly that is my mandate, and I intend to hold the party accountable to my community, and I intend my community to hold me accountable to them,” he said.
Main Street’s Continental Hair owner Domenic Prochilo said he supports Van Bynen’s run for the federal seat. When asked about his voting intentions and issues he cares most about, he said with a laugh, “We’re not supposed to be talking about those things, right?”
Elsewhere on Main, one man sitting outside a coffee shop said, “You’ve got my vote,” as he was handed a campaign flyer. Farther up the street, another man said he doesn’t vote.
So, if voters send Van Bynen to Ottawa on election day Oct. 21, for which local issues will he fight?
“For me, it’s making sure that affordability and the ability to find housing is key,” he said. “We hear it all the time, property values have gone up, and we can achieve that through a number of social supports that we have.”
“And create jobs. So for the middle class, the take-home pay is higher, especially for young families that have children. The Canada Child Benefit program has been important and I continue to support that and am optimistic that it could be expanded,” Van Bynen said.
Van Bynen said the idea of a universal guaranteed income is something that is worthwhile to explore.
“I know the provincial (Liberal) Party had looked at that and that project was cancelled by the Progressive Conservative Party,” he said. “I’m not sure if the federal (Liberal) party has had a look at that. If I recall correctly, when the provincial program came out, there was a good business case for it.”
On the subject of moving Canada’s health-care system forward, Van Bynen said a national pharmacare plan would create a benefit for all, along with a national health-care program.
“That’s going to take a lot of negotiating with the provinces, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done. I think a standard of living for Canadians should be consistent across Canada,” he said.
After the Main Street tour, Van Bynen headed over to the Aurora GO station on Wellington Street East to speak with commuters, and finished up the first official day of campaigning with a stop at Newmarket’s Market Brewing Co.
Van Bynen and his campaign team plan to knock on 1,000 doors across the riding this weekend in an initiative billed as a Weekend of Action.Visit our Canada Votes page for comprehensive coverage of the 43rd general election that will be held on Monday, Oct. 31.