It’s been quite some time since I’ve had the pleasure of writing to the voters of Brant Riding. During my 22 years as the MP for Brant I would have been delighted to support a publication like The Advocate. I would like to thank the editorial board for the opportunity to not only write, but to share this space with such distinguished community builders as Phil Gilles, Lloyd St. Amand and Nora Fueten.
When asked to write down my thoughts on the importance of this election I knew immediately about what I wanted to write.
Unlike many, I have very vivid memories of what private health care was like.
I remember the pained look on my father’s face when, as a boy, I had taken ill. My father knew he had to call a doctor but was embarrassed by not knowing exactly how he was going to pay for it. He wasn’t alone. Before public health care was introduced, this was a common problem for many.
I remember also the relief from the general public when our health care system came to be. The public health care system we often take for granted now, was one that Canadians fought for. It was a struggle to put in place and I firmly believe we must be vigilant to keep the private health care lobby at bay. I trust New Democrats provincially and federally will do this.
We all recall Tommy Douglas and his brave fight for health care. I served with the man in Parliament. He was a great parliamentarian and human rights activist. The results of the public health care battle have been celebrated in popular media and the history books alike.
However, in our sense of accomplishment, we forget the effort involved in creating something that at one time didn’t exist. We’ve seen, since then, a continual push from the right to make the system more open to privatization. We’ve seen two-tier health care begin to creep into our system and with it, rising costs.
In Ontario you have a choice between the status quo and change. New Democrats have been proudly working to create change that will put people first for over 50 years now.
In Brant, you also have a choice. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Brian Van Tilborg, your NDP Candidate and I highly recommend him. I know he has a deep passion for the community and is truly in touch with the needs and concerns of those he meets at the doors on the hustings. He’s a listener and Queen’s Park could use some more of them.
He’s also incredibly committed to progressive change. Like me, he has been a multiple time candidate, a difficult task but one in which he shows great desire and tenacity. He’s been able to hear the concerns of the community and bring a spotlight to some issues that at one time were not given their due. Most importantly, he works not just during elections but in all those in-between times where the work is most important. I know this because I remember him not just as a recent candidate, or as the organizer of the last local federal campaign but also as a youth volunteer on some of my own campaigns as far back as the 70s.
In my opinion, Brian Van Tilborg is a stalwart and Queen’s Park could use more like him.