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“5 Questions” Interview(s) With Ontario Liberal Party Candidates: Mitzie Hunter

Mitzie Hunter is next up in answering some questions about her Ontario Liberal Party leadership run. You’ll find her relevant website and contact info below the very last answer of hers.

1) There are many candidates running to be the next Ontario Liberal Party leader. What would you say to delegates looking for reasons to vote for you / elect you as leader?

It is time for change in Ontario. That is the resounding message that I hear as I travel across the province and speak with Liberals in their communities. I’ve visited over 60 ridings so far and people want real change and that requires strong, experienced leadership.  My vision for Ontario focuses on two things: affordability and opportunity.   I’ve worked hard all my life. I’ve led organizations in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors. I’ve been a CEO, a business person, a community leader and a bridge-builder. I’ve been elected three times as the Liberal MPP for the riding of Scarborough-Guildwood and I’ve held high profile Cabinet positions. I know how to bring people together.  I know how to fight, how to lead and how to win.  My track record shows that I have what it takes lead the Liberal party and to beat Premier Doug Ford in the next provincial election in 2022.     

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2) As you know, the OLP recently had a vote on whether to change electing the leader of the party from the current delegated convention to “One Member One Vote”. Though that measure failed to reach the 2/3 vote measure to pass, it still had majority support,  which would seem to suggest among OLP members there is a strong desire to modernize the OLP.  If you accept that premise, (and regardless of whether you supported OMOV or not),  how would you, as Ontario Liberal Party leader, modernize the party so it becomes  a more inclusive party to its members, as well as building and supporting a strong grassroots organization across the province?

After the last provincial election, I reached out to the Liberal membership to hear their thoughts on rebuilding the party. That feedback led me to call for and push for the One Member One Vote system.  It would have helped to modernize the party and give real voice and choice to our members who want to participate in electing a leader.  It would have also brought new people into the party.  I want to re-engage our members from every riding and make sure their voice is heard on rebuilding our party and province.   We also must attract new people to the party to make it more modern, inclusive and progressive.  We need to listen to our grassroots, we need new ideas, new faces and more rural and northern perspectives. We need to bring Liberals and those who believe in liberal values together. That’s why, if elected as leader, I will work with Liberals across the province to knock on a million doors by 2022 to rebuild our relationship with Ontarians, re-earn their trust and bring about the real change they are looking for.

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3) Is there anything the OLP can do to bridge the gap that is the rural/urban divide on Ontario with voting preferences? Specifically,  what is your vision and plan for rebuilding the party outside of the GTHA and Ottawa regions given our party’s lengthy history of strong representation from Rural and Northern Ontario?

I think the 2018 election clearly showed Ontarians were somewhat disconnected from the party and disillusioned with politics in general. The lesson in the loss was that we need to listen more and listen better to people, not just within the GTHA but outside of it as well.  People live in every corner of this province and they want policies to reflect their reality. A centralized, one-size fits all approach won’t cut it. During my time as Minister of Education, I made it a point to visit one school every week including visiting schools in rural, remote and Northern Ontario. I listened to students, parents, teachers, school boards, and residents and I made it a priority to invest more per-pupil funding in rural Ontario because of how important education is to the future of the province. I also initiated a Northern strategy to support student learning and address the unique needs of those communities. That’s the type of commitment we need to make to ensure all regions in the province are heard by connecting on the ground, at the local level with community leaders in every riding. That’s where innovative and progressive ideas are born and we need to make sure their perspectives are reflected as we build a stronger Ontario for everyone.

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4) Do you currently have any general or specific policy solutions you’d like to see included in the next election platform  to try and draw Ontarians back to the party and vote for the OLP? 

Education is one of my key policy areas and one that is very important to the future of our province. I plan to invest in students from kindergarten to grade 12 and have set a goal of reaching a 90 per cent graduation rate.  I would restore the $750 million the Ford government cut from post-secondary education and as part of my ‘Take Flight’ initiative, I would also increase the interest-free grace period to 2 years to help post-secondary students hit the ground running with less debt once they graduate.

On the economy, I will invest in education, skills development and reskilling to ensure Ontario remains competitive and affordable leading to more jobs, restore funding to the tech sector and make sure it is long-term for the next generation of companies and entrepreneurs, including women. On healthcare, I want to provide more and better access to mental health support, especially for youth by expanding OHIP+ for mental health coverage to those under 30 years old, strengthen the homecare system and deliver better care to remote communities through smart technology.

As the campaign progresses, I will be sharing more of my policy platform in detail, including goals to support the environment and tackling climate change.  

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5) As you know, the  OLP is currently a small 3rd party w/o official party status in the Ontario legislature – with that comes resource and staffing challenges.  With that in mind, if you are elected leader, how do you plan to oppose Doug Ford inside and outside the legislature to try and overcome this?

Ontarians have lost faith in Doug Ford. They are looking for an alternative to divisive politics and poor decision-making that has had real consequences for our healthcare, education, environment and economy.  Premier Ford and his Conservative government’s track record is proving that they are not really in it for the little guy.  As a member of the Liberal caucus I will keep using my voice in the legislature to speak up for Ontario. For example, when Doug Ford canceled Canada Day celebrations at Queen’s Park, I brought it back by organizing a people’s picnic on the grounds. Outside of Queen’s Park, as the finance critic, I work to inform people about how the government’s austerity cuts are hurting the most vulnerable including people needing legal aid, public health and childcare services. I will continue to build my campaign around listening to our grassroots members and connecting with communities all across the province.  Fundamentally, I believe Liberal values align with those of Ontarians with a belief in good quality accessible heath care, education, and an environment that’s sustainable and an economy where people have access to good jobs and prosperity. With that universal belief bringing us together there is universal strength that will lead to a Liberal victory in 2022.  

We need a strong leader for a stronger Ontario. If people would like to join Team Mitzie or find out more about my campaign, I invite them to visit www.mitziehunter.ca or send an email to [email protected]

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