Two candidates are vying for the chance to be the Liberal candidate for Newmarket-Aurora in the provincial election this spring.
Shameela Shakeel and Dr. Sylvain Roy have put their names forward to be the local candidate for the provincial election due by June 2 this year.
The nomination contest will conclude Feb. 12, but only those who register for the local party association by today, Jan. 6, at 5 p.m. can vote.
The two political newcomers will attempt to unseat Conservative MPP and Deputy Premier Christine Elliott, who won in 2018. Former Liberal MPP Chris Ballard, who lost in 2018, is not vying for the nomination again.
Newmarket-Aurora Provincial Liberal Association president Cathy Gapp said she is glad to have qualified candidates, and the association is ready to put plenty of support behind the winning candidate.
“We’re extremely lucky we have two highly skilled candidates, and I’m looking forward to working with whoever wins the nomination,” Gapp said.
Newmarket resident Shakeel said she was approached by the party to run through her advocacy work as co-chair of York Communities for Public Education. The education advocacy group has pushed against school violence, hybrid learning models and has asked for additional measures for COVID-19 safety.
“I thought, I’m already doing a lot of the work. I’m already fighting for all the things that matter,” she said. “We need a representative that’s invested in our community. We need strong leadership. I want to reflect the cultural diversity, our community values."
Roy is a neuropsychologist who currently works with the Inner City Family Health Team providing primary care to homeless individuals. He said he was spurred to run by the health policies of the current government, questioning cuts in the sector ahead of the pandemic.
“I’ve been in Queen’s Park very often advocating for patients and advocacy for better health services,” he said. “The cuts had a very detrimental effect on my patients, and frankly, I’ve been underwhelmed by everything that’s been happening the past 3-1/2 years.”
Although he is not a resident of the riding, and lives just outside of Toronto, Roy said he has worked on homelessness issues in York Region and feels connected to Newmarket-Aurora. He said he was encouraged to run by Ballard, a colleague and friend.
He added he looks forward to the race ahead.
“It’s going to be an opportunity to really connect with our residents here,” he said. “It’s going to be making sure I have a good sense of what everyone wants.”
Shakeel said she would have preferred acclamation after spending some months as the only prospective candidate. But she said it is just another step and is pleased by the support she has received.
“I’m going to do everything I can to make sure people that I know, and local people realize what we need is a local candidate who is going to fight for everything Newmarket-Aurora,” she said.
To vote in the nomination contest, you must be a member of the Newmarket-Aurora association as of Jan. 6 at 5 p.m. You can sign up free of charge through the Liberal website but must reside in the riding. Voting takes place Feb. 12.
Gapp said they are open to anyone signing up.
“We’re very excited about both candidates,” she said. “So it will be a healthy, interesting rejuvenation of Liberalism locally.”