Why change a thing? Because Muskoka is falling behind writes Cheri McLeod

Cheri McLeod

”That’s the way it’s always been done“ is practically the motto in this part of Ontario. In all fairness, it’s mostly the reason we chose to move/stay here. It’s part of the charm; why we call Muskoka/Parry Sound/Almaguin Highlands home.

Rich with old traditions, natural beauty and a slower, simpler life. What’s not to love about endless trails, a cabin in the woods, summers by the lake, winters by the fire. Why change a thing?

The answer to that is all around us.The everyday stuff. Small rural towns falling behind, shutting doors and rolling up sidewalks. We’re unable to keep or attract new business with aging roads and infrastructure, lack of up to date internet technology, closing schools and constantly having the future of our hospitals up in the air. Our youth having to leave for school or work and not enticed to return with our lack of opportunities, unreliable internet and limited food delivery options.

Our seniors, unwillingly having to move to larger urban areas for medical care and affordable housing options. Our working force, driving hours each day or away from their families during the week because companies aren’t coming here. Small businesses are failing. So here we live in the most beautiful place in the world but we’re lacking in some of the very essential tools to help us succeed.

Voting for a candidate because your family has always voted that way, or because the former MP always showed up at your events (that’s their job) doesn’t work anymore. That’s clear. We’ve been left behind and forgotten. While our MP was busy sexting and tweeting, he forgot we needed reliable, affordable childcare and our hospitals to have enough funding to stay where they are.

This time, instead of voting for the guy that Grandpa always votes for I’ve learned I need to vote for the party that has a plan to address our needs and the issues that affect us here.

Serious spring flooding throughout the area is our climate change wake up call. We don’t need a picture of a politician with a sandbag and a shovel; we need real action and support.

Increased forest fires throughout the region put a strain on Volunteer Firefighters, who are widely dispersed and cover areas that are hundreds of kilometers of dense bush and hard to access communities.

We need a leader to address the systemic racism and blatant disregard for Indigenious people. Without exception we need clean drinking water, safe uncrowded housing, schools, healthcare and mental health care on every reserve. Parents should never have to send their young teenage children hundreds of kms away for education or medical treatment and have to worry if they will even come back alive. Never. Not in Canada. Not anywhere.

“I don’t want to pay more taxes!” a friend told me on the phone. Oh. I think you do.

I’ll pay more taxes so my neighbour won’t go hungry, so your roads home are safer, so we can have reliable internet, so we can keep healthcare in our area.

I want to know my sister won’t have to choose between getting her prescription filled and getting the winter coat she needs.

I want to know my son will be keep his dental appointment and still have enough money for groceries.

I want my mom to be able to age in place rather than be placed on a waitlist to be moved to a facility in an urban area away from her community and family.

I want to know for sure that every child in every class has had breakfast and that there are enough teachers to notice if a child needs some one on one time.

We need to know that when the schools are closed down and our kids are then bussed over an hour one way to another community, that they are going to get the education they need and deserve.

We need to feel safe. All of us. We need to know why so many domestic abuse cases have been dismissed in this area and how many of those women were Indigenous and how many of them are now on the list of MMIW?

We need to provide community and supports for immigrants and newcomers to ensure their successes.

We need money to create closed schools into community hubs to provide in town services for communities that are losing everything else.

We need support for our Veterans. Respect, instead of red tape.

We need an abundance of safe affordable housing. We need to be able to stay in the communities we love when a change in life situations occurs.

Civic engagement isn’t optional anymore. Not caring about politics is just lazy. You do care about politics. You care that clean water comes out of your tap (or doesn’t if you live on reserve). It’s important to you that your loved ones make it home, thanks to countless systems in place to ensure Canadian’s roads and workplaces are safe.

You just don’t care for politicians. I get that. We’ve been let down repeatedly. We absolutely have to tell our leaders what we need and hold them accountable to fixing the problems.

While this may have been a Conservative stronghold for years it’s always baffled me. The needs of our region aren’t addressed by the PC party. It’s like people were just voting that way because “That’s the way it’s always been done.” That’s left a lot of people with feet in mouths (The people with the “Ford Nation” took their signs down finally, I’ve noticed) and great disappointment.

After a while people stopped defending Tony Clement, Vic Fedelli, Doug Ford. How can they call themselves your representatives when they aren’t representing the needs of the very constituents that voted them in?

This isn’t your Grandfather’s Progressive Conservative party anymore; they don’t hold the Conservative views of a roof over every head, food for all and conserving our precious resources so there’s some left for our great grandchildren. Conservative = Conservation. And they’re certainly not Progressive.

If we want different results we need to make different choices.

On October 21 I will choose to ensure that no one is left behind. I’ll vote for the party that understands this area and our specific needs. The party that addresses every one of my concerns and has plans to move forward. I’m voting for the party that fills me with hope that we can be the Canada that I dream of.

I will vote accordingly. I’m voting NDP.

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