NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh was in Waterloo Region on Monday to meet local NDP candidates and party supporters ahead of the June provincial election. Making four stops to visit the five NDP representatives on the ballot, Singh touted those hopefuls as a "dream team" for the people of Waterloo Region, while speaking to party priorities on the key issues that matter to voters.
The first of those stops was at the campaign office of Kitchener Centre NDP Incumbent, Laura Mae Lindo. Hosting a joint media briefing, Singh noted issues of affordability continue to be a concern at the provincial level, alongside those of a healthcare system in crisis due to underfunding and strain under the COVID-19 pandemic. Arguing that Ontarians have "seen the results of a government that doesn't prioritize healthcare," Singh said the New Democrats are capable of fixing the healthcare issue.
"We absolutely can prioritize healthcare - that's what New Democrats do." said Singh. "We are proud defenders of a public, universal, accessible for everyone healthcare system and we will defend that, and make sure people get what they need. We'll make sure people can find a home they can afford, and make sure they're able to live the best lives they can - and make sure that we tackle the affordability crisis in a meaningful way, focused on people."
"With that prioriy in mind, we'll get results".
Cited by Waterloo NDP Incumbent Catherine Fife as being a group of "fierce women" representing the party locally, Singh said it's "incredible" to see five female candidates on the ballot for the New Democrats in Waterloo Region, arguing the party to have "long been champions in terms of representation" for women and equity-seeking individuals.
"We're proud of that - because that's what Canada is. We don't want to see a parliament in Queen's Park or in Ottawa that doesn't reflect the population, and we're proud that we're really pushing when it comes to making sure women are represented."
When asked about the significance of touring Waterloo Region ahead of the provincial election, Singh emphasized that the region is just as important as any other in the goal of representing the province, maintaining that he was visiting to support local candidates in their drive to become members of provincial parliament in government in order to make change. Singh spoke to Laura Mae Lindo's work on equity and in fighting injustice and systemic racism as an example of her "proven track record" of building more inclusive communities, arguing that voters can count on her to continue to "break barriers."
"When you put women into positions of power and leadership like this, when you form a government that is centering on our needs, things will change because our stories are different. I think that's part of the equity work that the NDP more generally is always doing at all levels," said Lindo.
Lindo offered her own thanks to Fife for her "instrumental" role in bringing strong women leaders to the fore provincially, while emphasizing the impact that COVID-19 has disproportionately had on women across Canada. Making up a vast portion of the front line workers in the province, including PSWs and educators. Lindo argued that the current provincial government failed those workers in their response to the pandemic, leaving women working in-person with students with special needs without access to proper PPE, and unable to keep themselves or their students safe.
"We had the longest school closures in the country in Ontario, and a lot of that was because the government, the conservatives were afraid to do what was needed to protect us. So now, parents are sitting at home having to find ways, tools in their backpack to help kids," said Lindo. "Well the NDP has a solution: we're going to make sure that everybody has what they need when it comes to mental health support - and as we do that, as we demonstrate to the most vulnerable that we love them, we care for them, that they are the centre of all that we do, the whole world is going to change."
When speaking to the issues that matter to local voters, Lindo said that knocking on doors had many expressing concerns of housing, mental health and the need for investments in addiction services - and not just from those impacted by those issues.
"I'm hearing it from the community members who are looking at the encampment up the street and saying... how can we be a country that's doing this, or a province that's doing this? Why am I, Laura Mae Lindo, having to write an open letter to demand sanitation services at the encampment up the street? That should have been a no-brainer because we need to treat eachother with love, care, respect and compassion. The right leadership would do that - they would center people first."
"It's not a coincidence that when I first met Jagmeet, we were talking about love and courage. To be this bold, to put these bold platform pieces, whether it's housing, mental health or education forward, you have to have love, you have to have courage, and you have to be strong enough to do it - and I think provincially and federally we're ready to go."