With less than a week to go in the neck-in-neck 2019 federal election race, NewmarketToday asked several Newmarket-Aurora residents of various political affilations who are actively engaged in the local political scene to share their thoughts and observations about the campaign, the issues and the candidates. We'll talk to them again on election day before the polls close, and get the their feedback after the results are in and the dust has settled.
'Political junkie' Darryl Wolk, Conservative
Longtime Newmarket resident Darryl Wolk, a self-described political junkie who enjoys engaging in campaigns and community service, said he would not be surprised to see Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer pay a visit to the Newmarket-Aurora riding before election day Oct. 21.
“At this stage in the election, where the leaders visit is a sign of how the polls are going,” Wolk said, of Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau's Thanksgiving day visit to Newmarket. “The growth of the NDP has led to Newmarket-Aurora now being projected to go Conservative, according to (online polling website) 338Canada.com.”
“Justin Trudeau was in Newmarket-Aurora to do his best to save the riding,” Wolk said. “This was a good way to rally Liberal partisans, but it is unlikely to change the outcome of the election.”
On the Issues:
As a commuter who spends about two hours each day getting to work in Toronto, Wolk expressed disappointment there hasn’t been a lot of talk locally about gridlock or infrastructure.
“I’d love to see the federal government pony up their share compared to other countries because, traditionally, transit projects are funded by property taxpayers or the provincial government on a one-off basis,” he said.
Pharmacare and dental coverage is important, but there has to be a plan to pay for it, he said. The country cannot run deficits forever and “our debt situation is not good, especially when considering the provinces”.
“We could face a global recession in 2020,” he said. “Low interest rates and massive deficits during good economic times could result in the federal government not having the tools to address an economic crisis, should it occur.”
On the platforms:
Wolk believes the recently released and costed Conservative platform is “moderate and practical”.
“They will balance the budget over five years and rely on economic growth, not cuts,” he said. “The decision to invest in the Yonge subway extension to Richmond Hill and the proposed Ontario line is the highlight for me.”
“These two projects are important to getting people moving and also promoting economic development,” he said. “The Conservatives also have plans to live within their means and are making promises that can be kept.”
“Canadians also have their own consumer debt and many are living paycheque to paycheque with no savings,” said Wolk. “We cannot afford a massive carbon tax on top of the already escalating cost of living. The platforms proposed by the Liberals, NDP and Greens would result in massive deficits that will eventually have to be paid for with tax increases Canadians cannot afford.”
On the national leaders debates:
Like many voters in the riding who have expressed their displeasure with the English-language televised leaders’ debate last Monday, Wolk was not a fan of the format. But he believes the debate may have changed the outcome of the election.
“(NDP leader) Jagmeet Singh was widely praised and seems to have gained some support. Andrew Scheer had to attack his main opponent and did a good job getting his points in. Justin Trudeau survived the debate and that is all that can be expected as an incumbent being attacked from all sides,” Wolk said.
“(Green Party leader) Elizabeth May disappointed me as I wanted to learn more about her party and platform beyond climate change,” Wolk said, adding that, in general, there was too much focus on climate change. “I don't understand why the Bloc is included, given they do not run candidates in English Canada. And I would have liked to see more conversation on the economy, deficits, health and foreign policy.”
“The Bloc is growing in support in Quebec. The NDP appears to be rising in popularity. The projections are showing a minority government and it could be difficult for either Trudeau or Scheer to govern under current projections because of the Bloc,” Wolk said.
“I feel momentum in Newmarket-Aurora and York Region has shifted to the Conservatives. Turnout and getting out the vote will be crucial,” he said, emphasizing that in a close election, every vote matters.
“I hope residents will take the time to get informed about their choices and participate in our democratic process. This is a very important election,” said Wolk. “(Conservative candidate) Lois Brown has knocked on more than 20,000 doors and has 1,500 lawn signs. That work on the ground could be the difference-maker, in my opinion.”
Wolk predicts that since the riding is historically Conservative-leaning and, if Trudeau is reduced to a minority, Newmarket-Aurora will be one of the first to change from red to blue.
Who's Darryl Wolk?:
A resident of Newmarket since 1985, Darryl Wolk has an MBA and undergraduate degrees in commerce and political science. He has worked in government relations, policy development and as a legislative assistant to former Newmarket-Aurora MPP Frank Klees. Wolk also ran for Ward 5 councillor and deputy mayor in Newmarket municipal elections. He has participated in international, national, provincial and local campaigns, is a political commentator and is active online. He has been engaged politically in the local riding since he was 14 and followed local politics for the past 25 years.
Longtime labour activist, Ed Chudak, NDP
Ed Chudak is no stranger to politics, having ran in the federal riding of Newmarket-Aurora under the New Democratic Party banner in the 2004 and 2006 elections. The Newmarket resident moved here in 1981 when it was a small, sleepy town.
He’s been hearing on the doorstep that there’s a great deal of volatility in the electorate, and that people are largely undecided.
He doesn’t dispute there’s a Liberal base in the Newmarket-Aurora riding, something about which he is “acutely aware” having run in two federal elections. And he believes Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau’s mainstreeting event in Newmarket’s downtown Thanksgiving Monday means the party thinks the riding is close.
“Largely, that type of event is well-planned and you have Liberals from every surrounding riding within driving distance that would try to make the event,” he said. “I think that Trudeau’s presence here means that Mr. (Tony) Van Bynen needs a push over the top. Whether that will be successful for him, who knows.”
On the platforms:
Chudak said voters should take a close look at the Conservative Party platform that was released just before the Thanksgiving long weekend.
“There’s $53 billion in cuts listed, $6 billion of which is accounted for, and then the rest is the regular old game of 'finding efficiencies',” Chudak said. “Well, that’s (Ontario Premier) Doug Ford’s line, ‘We’ll find efficiencies’, and we all know how that turned out.”
There’s no denying that many Ontarians were “aghast” at the efficiencies found by the Ford government, which Chudak believes, are “devastating to people, to our institutions, to all kinds of things”.
“Personally, I would never vote for a pig in a poke,” he said. “And that’s what Mr. (Andrew) Scheer is presenting. You can’t just say we’re going to cut foreign aid … and we’re going to find efficiencies for the rest of it, that’s a pig in a poke.”
Chudak believes Ford and Conservative Party leader Scheer are closely aligned.
“If you look at the big budget items in the (Conservative’s) budget, on health care and transfers to provinces for other programs, I don’t think anybody wants cuts to those types of things,” he said. “That’s a real worry for people in Ontario.”
Voters are connecting with the NDP platform because it is “a platform for the people”, Chudak said.
“I’ve noticed in the political analysis that’s out there that the NDP is the second choice for both Liberals and, surprisingly, many Conservatives,” he said. “That means that there is substance to what’s being put out there.”
On the candidates:
Chudak said NDP candidate, Yvonne Kelly, is “really great and energetic”, and stands out in contrast to the two main local challengers, the Liberals’ Van Bynen and Conservative Party candidate Lois Brown.
“If you look at the two other main candidates locally, they’re both fairly elderly,” said Chudak, who is 67. “Lois Brown ran against me in 2004 and 2006, she wasn’t that young then. That’s got to have an impact, I would think, on some younger people.”
On the national leaders debates:
Like others, Chudak thought the English-language leaders debate was lacking.
“But I thought (NDP leader) Jagmeet Singh came across very well, and that’s been borne out in the press almost universally,” he said. “And, I’m quite pleased with the bump the NDP has received from that. “
“I think a lot of people are frustrated with their circumstances and a lot of people have a distrust of politicians, and Jagmeet comes across as genuine,” said Chudak. “He stays away from the attacks and I think that translates nicely for people.”
Who's Ed Chudak?:
Ed Chudak is retired, but serves as a part-time member of the Ontario Labour Relations Board. He spent his career as a teacher activist with the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association, of which he was bestowed an honorary lifetime membership. He also served as a liaison with the Canadian Labour Congress and labour community. His work has been acknowledged with an Ontario Teachers’ Federation fellowship and he was named to the Ontario Federation of Labour honour roll.
Community volunteer, Peter Cozzi, Liberal
Lawyer Peter Cozzi, who has been knocking on doors as part of Tony Van Bynen's campaign team, has one thing to say about Newmarket-Aurora residents: "Everyone is very civil." And if there's anything to be said about the role of election signs in predicting outcomes, it's a dead heat on his own Newmarket street.
On the platforms:
Based on the GDP growth alone since 2008, it's clear to Cozzi that the Liberal government has been a boost to the economy, although he acknowledges other factors such as the rebounding oil sector.
He also favours the deficit spending embraced by the Liberals, as it's money "that goes right into the economy", unlike the Conservatives' plan for tax cuts that would have little "trickle down" impact to stimulate the economy.
The Liberals' costed platform details a $57-billion plan over four years, which will be paid for with more borrowing, which they say is needed to foster growth and provide help to households struggling with high levels of personal debt.
He added the Liberals' Canada Child Benefit has helped many local families, with the Liberals crediting it with lifting 300,000 children out of poverty since its introduction in 2016. A re-elected Liberal government would give families up to $1,000 more by increasing the benefit by 15 per cent for children under the age of one.
On the national leaders debates:
Bilingual Cozzi said he watched both the English and French debates, the latter being "better managed by the moderator". Unfortunately, due to all the "talking over each other" that the party leaders did, the impact of what they were saying was diminished, he said.
On the issues:
The climate crisis is undoubtedly an issue for many residents, Cozzi said, adding he recently read an article about the growing number of psychologists reporting that they are treating patients for stress, anxiety and depression related to climate change.
"The PPC (People's Party of Canada) is the only (party) not supporting climate change issues realistically," he said.
However, as Conservative candidate Lois Brown was the only candidate not to attend the local Drawdown/KAIROS forum on climate change, "it's a good indicator" that her campaign team knows they don't have that vote, and aren't interested in pursuing it, Cozzi said.
Who's Peter Cozzi?:
Peter Cozzi, a resident of Newmarket since 1987, is the father of five children. He was secretary of the Newmarket High School Parent Council, treasurer of the East Gwillimbury Soccer Club and coached soccer, baseball and basketball. He has played and coached in the Newmarket Men’s Baseball League for 25 years.
— With files from Debora Kelly