Hi, my name is Brian Weller and i'll be your Oak Ridges-Markham community correspondent for Speak Your Mind, a forum for commentary, debate and conversation around issues affecting YOU in the coming Provincial election. Oak Ridges-Markham voters are fortunate to have some excellent candidates to choose from; all asking for YOUR vote to become our next MPP. Hopefully by promoting discussion, participation and engagement, each of us can make an informed choice as to who will best represent our interests in Queen's Park! For a little about me, I live in Markham with my wife and we have four grandchildren. Although I once ran for election as a local ward councillor, I am not a card-carrying member of a political party. I love to ride my Harley and when i'm not, I love to write.....in fact, i've been known to contribute to a few newspapers, primarily about the interaction between politics and economics and what impact history has in shaping both. I'll be asking the candidates YOUR questions so feel free to share your ideas and feedback by sending them to....
Pollsters are predicting that only half of the eligible voters will bother to cast their vote in the coming election and we can't afford a dismal showing. Decisions made by our next MPP will have an effect on YOU so the following is a little background information for each candidate. Each week, i'll bring YOUR issues forward and you'll know where the candidates stand on what is important to YOU!
Your candidate's bio.....
Green Party..........Trifon Haitas - was born in Greece and raised in Toronto, Trifon grew up in Don Valley East, and recently moved to Oak Ridges – Markham.Trifon is the founder of Green Planet, a social network with over 2800 active members and owns and operates a media company that creates news and entertainment. Trifon, a documentarian, editorialist and honourary member of the National Ethnic Press and Media Council of Canada was granted the organization’s medal for distinguished services. He is also a recipient of the NEPMCC “Honoris Causa” award for promoting equality, respect for human values, human rights, cooperation and understanding amongst the members of the various cultural groups existing within Canadian society. In the 2007 Provincial Elections in Ontario, Trifon ran as the official Green Party Candidate in the Toronto riding of Don Valley East. His Green team successfully earned 2300 votes, increasing the Green vote by a factor of six compared to the previous provincial elections.
NDP.........Joe Whitfeld, an elementary school teacher formerly lived in Stouffville. Joe wants to focus on rebuilding the middle class and a responsible NDP government in Ontario, a province where two out of three Ontarians do not have a pension plan, a province that has chosen renewable energy sources over nuclear energy, a province where not only do we support unionized workers, but we support any man or woman that seeks to earn a decent wage. Joe was nominated for the Premier’s Award as Ontario’s best new elementary school teacher. He lives in Markham with his wife and three children and will be moving to Stouffville in November.
Liberal.........Dr. Helena Jaczek was born in England and came to Canada at age 12. Helena received her medical degree and Masters of Health Science from the University of Toronto and practiced medicine at the Etobicoke Medical Centre and Women’s College Hospital in Toronto. Serving as Medical Officer of Health and the Commissioner of Health Services for York Region for well over 18 years, Helena's accomplishments did not go unrecognized. She received the Distinguished Service Award from the Association of Local Public Health Agencies and honoured for her Medical Leadership in York Region by receiving an award “In Celebration of Women”. Elected as the Member of Provincial Parliament for the riding of Oak Ridges-Markham in 2007, Helena has served as Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Health Promotion, and is at the present, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Environment. Her background in environmental planning was beneficial to the Ministry of Environment as in 2005 Helena received an Award for Environmental Planning from the Canadian Institute of Planners. Currently, she is the Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of the Environment and has served as the Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Health Promotion. Helena sits on the Cabinet Subcommittee on Health, Economy and Social Policy and most recently was appointed to serve on the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs. Helena was a member of the Standing Committee on Mental Health and Addictions and played an integral role in the expansion of Seneca College’s King campus and the creations of the Navigating the Journey to Wellness: A Comprehensive Mental Health and Addictions Action Plan for Ontarians report. During Helena’s term, the Markham Stouffville Hospital expansion began and GO Transit announced the extension of its rail service into Gormley.
Progressive Conservative.........Farid Wassef is a long-time resident of Richmond Hill and Stouffville and his family has lived and worked there for nearly 40 years. He obtained his Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy in 1989 and went on to run his family’s business, the local Guardian Houston Pharmacy in Stouffville. Farid has been recognized for his commitment to patient care and public healthcare. He has been awarded the Mortar Pestle Award of Merit, the Commitment to Care Award in Patient Care, Outstanding Service Award in Patient Self Care, and the Reader’s Choice Awards for Best Health Services by a pharmacist. Farid is also the co-author of the book, Breaking the Age Barrier: Strategies for Optimal Health, Energy and Longevity which was published in 2003. Farid was named Canadian pharmacist of the year in 2006. An avid community volunteer, Farid takes pride in mentoring students and other pharmacists. In addition, he has been an outspoken advocate for better health services. Farid wants to ensure that government makes healthcare and education its top priorities, keeps costs down and improve the quality of care for Ontario families. As a member of the Tim Hudak’s Ontario PC Team, he champions lower taxes and smaller government. He and his wife, Peggy, have two children, Nicholas and Kacie.
Ontario Libertarian Party......Karl Boelling lives in Oak Ridges and recently got tired of the same old thing of being forced to choose from a selection of parties that are all sort of the same (just a few variations). So he became a Libertarians and after reviewing (and approving) of who they were and what they had to say, he asked who the riding candidate was and was told there wasn't one as yet. So he decided to step up and be that candidate. He believes in limited government and is tired of of asking "for what?" when he looks at his paystub and seeing the gross pay, then after adding up how much he didn't get of that. He says, "I'm tired of asking how when I hear about these massive debts of the government and then looking around me, counting all the people around me and assuming that they're taxed the same way as I am and I'm just an employee, I know that my employer has to match the income tax he takes from me on behalf of the government on top of everything else he has to pay. I could go on but that's not necessary, I just believe that this province can actually be run as a succesfull business if the government would step back and let the people who actually have the ability to create jobs and wealth free to do what needs to be done.
Independent..... Ruida Lu lives in the Oak Ridges community of Richmond Hill. He is currently studying International Business Administration at Schulich School of Business, York University. He serves as Vice President Finance at the York University chapter of Save the Children Canada. Ruida was a winner of Lieutenant Governor's Community Volunteer Award for Students and Eglinton-Lawrence Outstanding Volunteer Award in 2009. He has volunteered more than 1,000 hours for various charitable organizations and non-for-profit groups such as the Heart & Stroke and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in the past five years. The lack of transparency in Queen's Parke, the Health scandal and skyrocketing hydro prices got Ruida motivated to run for MPP. Ruida is committed to bringing accountability to Queen's Park. He will improve the efficiency of government operations to lower taxes and improve services for residents. Ruida has an avid interest in transportation. Ruida's team won the Best Bus Design award at 2011 Ontario Youth Summit on Sustainable Transportation. Ruida wants to fight against traffic congestions in the GTA, and make public transit run faster and cost less. He is a strong advocate in environmental protection, and he wants to ban new development in the Oak Ridges moraine and stop the construction of the Pickering Airport. As an independent candidate, Ruida will stand up for the interests of Oak Ridges-Markham residents, not interests of political parties. If elected, he will keep all his promises or he will resign. Satisfaction guaranteed!