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Interview with Diane Ballantyne, LPC Nomination Contestant, Wellington-Halton Hills

Small-Diane Ballantyne-# 14-ps-8x12A lot of Liberal candidates are up in Ottawa this week for more Campaign College training, but nomination contestants are around to be interviewed, and today I’m doing an interview with Diane Ballantyne, Liberal nomination contestant for the riding of Wellington Halton-Hills (the riding currently held by CPC MP Michael Chong). I’ll note of the interviews I’ve done she has one of the more detailed replies as to why people should vote for her/ support her (the last questions of the interview). I thank her for her participation!

 

 

 


 

For those that haven’t seen your website yet, can you tell our readers why you’ve decided to run for the nomination?

I have decided to run for the nomination because I am appalled at what the Conservative Party has done to our nation. Over the past decade, Canada has become more divisive and poorer – both in spirit and in reputation. There are many aspects of Canada that we spent over a century building, which are being systematically dismantled by the “Harper” government: the Archives, the scientists, the long-form census, our role in the UN, and the consistent violation of our own environmental policies…and we could go on. I have had enough of being embarrassed by the stranglehold Harper’s Conservatives have had on our riding, our economic and social policy, and our country, and I am running to provide a progressive alternative to the current Conservative MP.

If a Justin Trudeau government is elected (regardless of majority or minority) are there any issues that you’d like to champion in that government if you were elected as an MP?

I am particularly interested in issues of social justice – income inequality, First Nations concerns and the environment come to mind first. However, post-secondary affordability, planning for our rapidly aging population, food security and economic sustainability are also areas of concern. Persistent poverty and the need for innovation to create good paying jobs are also top-of-mind.

There is a saying that “all politics is local”. At present, do you feel there are any issues in Wellington-Halton Hills that may come into play during the election campaign, or is it going to be based on national issues only?

Wellington-Halton Hills is a combination of rural and smaller urban areas, so the issues are diverse. Georgetown’s concerns differ from those of rural Belwood. Overall, people are concerned about jobs – not just service industry jobs, but good jobs. Ones you can raise a family on. Attracting industry to this riding is essential for a sustainable economy. The introduction of renewable energy projects is foremost in the minds of the people in the Belwood area. Building bridges of communication is needed here to ensure community voices are clearly heard on any new development projects. Transportation issues affect Centre Wellington as a whole. As this community projects a doubling of population in the next 15 years, public transportation is necessary to enable our youth to access part-time jobs, for seniors to have flexibility in their movement, and for our community to reduce its carbon footprint. A comprehensive plan to care for our aging population is also an issue in this riding. An aging demographic in this area is deeply concerned about the quality of life they can anticipate in their twilight years. Finally, poverty continues to rise throughout the riding. The food banks are seeing a continued uptake in their clientèle. The issues of persistent poverty need to be addressed as it has significant long-term impacts on children and the health of our communities.

There are some who say once an MP is elected, the constituency’s wishes or concerns sometimes get ignored. Is there anything specific you would do to keep in touch with the riding, and related to that, how do you feel you can best represent the riding in Ottawa?

There should be no reason why an MP does not keep in contact with their constituents. A failure to do so constitutes dereliction of duty to our democracy, and the receipt of an occasional party flyer does not meet the standard. Regular communication through social media, articles in local publications and regular “meet and greet” events are integral to keeping the communication lines open with a constituency. Representing the riding in Ottawa requires strong advocacy skills as well as a clear understanding of the issues in the riding. Building relationships is essential to continue to learn; ensuring all inquiries and concerns are responded to promptly, courteously and knowledgeably are necessities.

I understand you’re a nomination contestant for the LPC in Wellington-Halton Hills. What do you tell people as to why they should pay $10 to become a Liberal member and support you in a potential nomination contest (if there are other contestants running).

My explanation to people about purchasing a Liberal membership is to encourage them to show support for a real democratic debate in our riding. Despite the hue and cry that this riding is hopelessly Conservative, I explain that just don’t believe it. Only 3 terms ago, prior to the gerrymandering of the boundaries, Waterloo-Wellington was represented by Lyn Myers for 2 terms, and Liberal roots run deep in Halton Hills. I encourage people to purchasing a Liberal membership so that they have the opportunity to attend the Nomination All Candidates meeting(s) to determine who they would most like to support as the candidate, and then have the ability to vote for that person at the Nomination meeting. Of course I would like them to vote for me, but more importantly, I promote the process to encourage new people – especially youth – to become interested and active. Selling a membership offers the opportunity for them to see what the Liberal Party has to offer and to share that experience with their friends. At its core, my message is simple: Inspire – Act – Change.

A follow up to that, if you have other contestants running against you, what would you say to those Liberal delegates who are undecided or perhaps to other supporters of other candidates (where a ranked ballot comes into if there are more than 2 of you running) about why they should support you to be the official candidate?

I would say that it is essential to remember that choosing the candidate is to choose the one that can win the riding, which means defeating Conservative MP Michael Chong. Passion, integrity and superior communication skills are needed to challenge the popular and well-regarded Michael Chong – whom I have hosted in my classroom numerous times. I am connected with our youth in a more significant way, and in greater numbers, than most. I have a long history of supporting those who are disenfranchised, and I am already building bridges with the progressive movement to unite around our message of a better Wellington-Halton Hills, and a more prosperous Canada for everyone. As well, I am an active user of social media, with a strong presence on Twitter and Facebook (top 50% according to Klout) and these are key tools to leverage during a campaign. I will inspire the reimagining of our riding, galvanize action and deliver sustainable change.

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