Tom Parkin for Parkdale-High Park

People are counting on us to win — and fight for them

Thank you to all those who helped in my nomination campaign and voted for my vision of a social democratic party that defeats Liberals and Conservatives, fights for people’s urgent needs and aims to win and govern as a social democratic party. That remains my vision today.

Jagmeet Singh includes everyone in his vision, asks everyone to participate and is relentlessly focused on bringing people together. That ethic is crucial to building a movement with the strength to win. And it’s a very hard job. Jagmeet and his team are now bringing forward the policies our country needs. Compared to that substance, the Liberals and Conservatives are embarrassingly hollow.

I enjoyed meeting Saron Gabresellassi, who is passionate about representing the unrepresented.

And congratulations to Paul Taylor, who is our candidate. I look forward to learning about Paul’s political vision for Canada and wish him good luck in the hard work he faces in the next months.

My friends and family, who supported and helped me, are the best. Thank you. Sheena and I will take some time away with our daughters, who we are so proud of and love being with. Special thank you, Sheena, for your amazing and loving support — and hard work!

I am developing an interesting next project through which I will continue to pursue my political vision for Canada. And I will continue my work as the Managing Director of the Workers Health and Safety Centre, which is an important organization that saves workers’ lives. I couldn’t be more proud of the work of the WHSC.

I truly do love this community — it’s a special place because of the people in it. I enjoyed meeting the members of the Parkdale-High Park NDP on their doorsteps. You learn a lot about people, face-to-face, at their door. It was my pleasure to meet and learn about you — and your urgent needs.

We New Democrats should never settle for anything less than electing a social democratic government that addresses people’s needs. It is good to be ambitious for the improvement of your country. So have no small ambition.

People with urgent needs are counting on the NDP to win in Parkdale-High Park – and fight for them in Ottawa. But winning here isn’t easy – it never is.

Even with all of Peggy Nash’s excellent qualities as a candidate and MP, we could not convert Parkdale-High Park into a safe Federal NDP seat. Peggy ran five times, winning twice.

Now Parkdale-High Park is represented by a Liberal MP who makes excuses for delaying help to those with urgent needs. It’s unacceptable. We need to win so we can fight for people. That is what I am determined to do.

I’ve lived in Parkdale and in High Park almost all my adult life and worked on every campaign. When Peggy asked me to be her riding president, she made a critical point to me: in Parkdale-High Park, the NDP vote, by itself, is not enough to win. An NDP candidate needs the energy to canvass doorsteps, night after night, building a personal relationship with voters.

I know the issues, know where we stand — and never afraid of hard debate with Liberals and Conservatives.

A personal relationship with voters, added to the NDP base, can add up to a win. Peggy did that.

A poll we did proved Peggy’s point. When we asked about party support, the Liberals led. When Peggy’s name was added, she pulled ahead.

I’ve taken that lesson. During this nomination campaign, there have been a few buildings I could never get in. There have been a few addresses I could never find. But, I have already done two rounds of canvassing to the entire membership’s doorsteps. And I hope that by nomination day I will have completed a third round.

I am a candidate on the doorsteps. My goal is to meet every member on their doorstep.

We also need a candidate in the debates.

Parkdale-High Park is an engaged community, and during elections there are several community-hosted debates. They’re well-attended, but often well-stocked with partisans, too.

As campaign managers always point out, there are not many undecided voters in the room. But we can’t dodge debate — it gives ammunition to our opponents if we do. On the other hand, good debate performances encourages our own supporters and volunteers.

I’ve learned that lesson, too. In this nomination campaign, I welcomed the plan to debate other candidates. It’s too bad all didn’t agree. I think members would have valued it.

For the past several years, I’ve been one of the NDP’s top debaters, challenging Liberals and Conservatives on national TV panels, radio shows and community events. If you elect me as your candidate, I will not let you down in community debates.

I have local and national endorsements because I’m a local activist with a national profile.

We can never, ever take winning for granted in Parkdale-High Park – that’s what I’ve learned from living here more than 25 years and being involved in every campaign. I know how we win here. I’ve seen it, studied it, lived it.

There are many parts to winning — some we can’t control locally. But a candidate strong in debates and on doorsteps is essential. I’ve already started that job. And if you elect me as our candidate, I will never stop.

People are counting on us to win in Parkdale-High Park — and fight for them in Ottawa. We know fighting on housing, pharmacare, transit and climate change matters in people’s lives — that’s why we are New Democrats.

I am determined to win and fight — and from 25 years of living in Parkdale-High Park and being involved in every campaign, I’ve learned some hard lessons about how to do that.

Peggy won Parkdale-High Park for the Federal NDP. We can’t risk it reverting to a federal Liberal bastion.

In 2015, we lost Peggy Nash to a Liberal wave. Peggy was an outstanding MP and candidate — always on the doorsteps, excellent in debate, smart on all the issues, strong on TV.

But in the campaign, the Liberals ran an unethical closing argument to confuse people out of voting for Peggy. And Liberals will do it again. Bank on it.

I remember the final days of the 2015 campaign. It made me angry. Still does. The Liberals were distributing a small card-stock leaflet with a chart of a national poll on it. The NDP is running third, they said. People in Parkdale-High Park need to vote Liberal to stop Harper, they said.

That was a tough lesson for me. Peggy asked me to be her riding president. In 2015, our team didn’t do the right things to pre-empt this attack. By the last few days, it was too late. We can never let them play that card on us again.

Of course Arif Virani and the people running the Liberal campaign knew they were spreading a false argument. In Parkdale-High Park it was a two-way race, NDP versus Liberal. The Conservatives were nowhere. We knew that. Liberals knew that. But Liberals decided to confuse people to try to win.

I have no doubt the Liberals’ endgame argument confused at least 500 of Peggy’s supporters into voting for the Liberal candidate. Five hundred votes switching is the 1,000 vote margin on which the Liberals won.

You can be guaranteed the Liberals will play the same endgame in 2019. We can’t wait to the last minute to fight it — we need to inoculate our supporters from Liberals’ false information from the start.

To inoculate voters, we need to educate. The lesson is a good story — because it has the power of truth. And it has the power to reveal the ethics of our opponents.

From Day One, we need to state the facts: in Parkdale-High Park, Conservatives don’t win. In 30 years, they’ve never even surpassed 20 per cent support – not even when Harper was winning a majority government. Parkdale-High Park is a straight-up, two-way fight between the NDP and Liberals. Conservatives don’t win here.

A Liberal canvasser who tells a voter they “need to” vote Liberal to stop the Conservatives is saying something false. That’s an ethical issue because the people running the local Liberal campaign know it’s false. Yet they spreading it right on voters’ doorsteps — right to voters’ faces.

I don’t think I have ever worked in an election in which the Liberals didn’t find a way to claim they were the “strategic choice.” After they disappoint us, they don’t have other card to play. It’s urgent that we take that last card away.

With Sheena, I’ve lived in both Parkdale and High Park. We’re raising our three daughters here. This is our community — and I have learned from working every NDP campaign here. Winning here matters to me — because electing an MP who fights hard matters to people.

What Peggy built matters. She won here twice. We can’t risk letting Peggy’s legacy slip away.

People are disappointed by Justin Trudeau. On housing, transit, pharamacare, climate change — Trudeau put people’s urgent needs on hold so he could take the call of SNC and Big Pharma. But people’s urgent needs didn’t go away – they just got more urgent.

Now people are counting on us to win in Parkdale-High Park – and fight for their urgent needs in Ottawa. What we fight for matters in people’s lives.

It’s never easy for the federal NDP to win here. Only one candidate ever achieved it — Peggy Nash, an excellent, community-based candidate with backing from the labour movement and the central party.

Peggy had a national profile and could talk intelligently on everything from the most global issues to the most personal challenges. She wasn’t just a fighter — she knew how to fight. She was fantastic in debates and on the doorstep. She assembled a strong campaign team.

But even with all the strengths Peggy Nash brought, we could not convert Parkdale-High Park into a safe NDP seat.

Peggy Nash won Parkdale-High Park. We need to win-back her legacy.

Peggy asked me to run as her riding president. And to be clear, Peggy has not endorsed anyone in this nomination race. That’s your choice. But I learned a huge amount from her in that role, working with her.

Peggy warned me many times: Parkdale-High Park is never a safe federal NDP seat – but the right NDP candidate can win with the right campaign, in the right circumstances. Never, ever be complacent.

A poll we did here proved her point. When asked which political party residents wanted to vote for, the Liberals were far ahead. When candidates’ names were introduced, Peggy shifted the dial to a narrow win.

Peggy Nash, as the only Federal New Democrat who has ever won Parkdale-High Park, gave us the exception, not the rule. She won in 2006 and 2011 — and she gave us representation we were proud of. She put us on the national map — and our issues on the national agenda. She was a front-bencher who fought for Parkdale-High Park – and Toronto.

But there were painful losses in 2004, 2008 and 2015.

It’s important that we win in Parkdale-High Park – and elect an MP who will fight for people’s urgent needs in Ottawa. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about Peggy’s excellent legacy — how we win it back and build on it. Over the next few days, I want to offer my thoughts.

Keeping our planet from exceeding a 1.5 degree temperature rise is the global collective action problem we need to solve urgently. Canada needs to start doing its part.

I was pleased to read NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh’s plan, Power to Change, which he released last Friday.

There’s a lot in that plan we can talk with neighbours about in this fall’s election — rail and bus electrification, building retrofits, electric vehicle infrastructure and more. It’s a detailed political document.

Now former Toronto Mayor — and Parkdale-High Park resident — David Miller has written this endorsement of Singh’s plan. Give it a read. And tell other about it. It matters!

This election couldn’t be more important.

The Liberals have disappointed us on electoral reform. Climate change. Housing. Transit. On people’s urgent needs. Justin Trudeau put people on hold so he could take the call of SNC and Big Pharma — but people’s urgent needs didn’t go away.

People in Parkdale-High Park are counting on the New Democrats to win and fight for them. Because what we fight for matters in people’s lives.

But winning here is never easy.

People are counting on us to win — and fight for them. It matters.

I know how to beat Liberals in Parkdale-High Park. It’s what I’ve learned living here almost all my adult life and working on campaigns for Peggy Nash, Bhutila Karpoche, Cheri DiNovo, David Miller, Paul Schmidt and others.

A winning campaign talks with people about what matters to them. Knows the issues. Comes from the community. Builds strength in every neighbourhood.

That’s what my campaign is all about. Join me. It matters.

Together, let’s build the Canada of our dreams — starting here in Parkdale-High Park.

At my core, I’ve always been fighting against economic vulnerability and injustice. And I think I know why.

I’m ten years younger than my oldest sister. And when I was six, my mom wanted to get back to her dream. My mom was a ground-breaker. In the late 1940s she got into medical school. She was one of a handful of women in her class. She had a dream of about caring for families’ health as a doctor.

She put that off while my sisters and I were growing up – but when I was six, I was in fulltime school. My mom was in her mid-40s and her dream of being a family physician was right there for her.

She had to take night classes and requalify. And that was going to cost some money.

My dad said it was his money and he wouldn’t pay!

But my mom’s story isn’t just about being economically trapped by sexism. It’s about overcoming.

My mom wasn’t deterred. She borrowed the money she needed from a friend, enrolled in night school and accomplished her dream.

One of her first jobs was at the Bay Centre for Birth Control at Women’s College Hospital.

Every once and awhile, a female friend would ask me if I was related to this practical and caring doctor she’d met at the Bay Centre. I was always proud to say she was my mom.

My mom was a powerful model in the lives of my sisters and me. I wouldn’t be making this video today without her example.

Teiaiagon was a vibrant Indigenous community of 5000 people in the late 1600s. Located on the point of land now called Baby Point and overlooking what we now call the Humber River, Parkdale-High Park has been built over it.

In the 1600s, Teiaiagon was one of two Indigenous communities in what’s now Toronto, the other being on the Rouge River.

The moose antler comb in the image above was unearthed in 1999 when construction of a Baby Point home unsettled the site where two Seneca women had been buried in the mid-1600s.

By learning and promoting the history of Teiaiagon, Parkdale-High Park New Democrats can help advance reconciliation. Parkdale-High Park has a central place in the colonization and settlement of Toronto.

And as your NDP MP, I want to keep helping our neighbours to learn this history. We should have plaques and discussions that recognize the deep indigenous history here. Our children should learn it in neighbourhood schools. Peggy Nash’s work to recognize the historic Humber River waterway needs to be continued.

I’m an amateur on local history – so I welcome those who can add, correct and help me learn more. What I’ve learned just comes from my experience of almost 30 years living in Parkdale-High Park. With my kids and wife, we’ve explored and talked about this history. Things weren’t always are they are now.

Written histories show the Seneca Iroquois town of Teiaiagon had about 50 longhouses and its people farmed the point’s land.

Teiaiagon was on the Toronto portage trail – the route from near the mouth of the Humber River to the Holland River. From the Holland River, which leads into the Holland Marsh, a light boat can travel to Lake Simcoe and then to Georgian Bay.

In those years, the French crown claimed all the territory in this area as New France. There was considerable contact between French people and the people of Teiaiagon.

It seems Teiaiagon was abandoned by the Seneca in 1687. Some histories say Teiaiagon was burned down by French military forces as punishment for trading with British expeditions. What is known is that in 1696 the Teiaiagon area was inhabited by Mississaugas.

In 1720 the French built a trading post near Teiaiagon. And in 1750 the French military built Fort Rouillé on the lakeshore, at the mouth of the Humber. But in 1763, after the end of the Seven Years War, European royals redrew their lines over this territory. Under European law, Teiaiagon became part of the British Province of Quebec, which extended as far south as the Ohio Valley.

Lines changed again in 1783, when the American revolutionary war against the British was formally ended. British claims south of the Great Lakes were ceded to the United States. Teiaiagon was, from the British military perspective, now the edge of a hot boundary. In 1787, the British Crown made an agreement with the Mississaugas of the New Credit, which is now called the Toronto Purchase.

I haven’t been able to find out when the Mississagas left Teiaiagon. Or why.

The colony of Upper Canada was run by the Tory Family Compact, which included James Bâby, a man from a fur trader family in what had been the ‘New France’ settlement of Detroit. Bâby’s family switched to the British side after the Seven Years War and then moved from Detroit to York (Toronto) after the US Revolutionary War. James Baby settled on the Teiaiagon lands in 1816. When the land was developed in the early 1900s, it was named Baby Point.

But before that, it was Teiaiagon.

My social justice activism was natural. But the NDP taught me something important.

It’s matters to win – and you need to know how.

A passion for social justice need a plan for winning.

In the mid-1980s I was at the University of Toronto and president of the UofT NDP club. The biggest campus political issue was pushing the university to divest from the racist South African apartheid regime

We joined other campus clubs to form the Anti-Apartheid Network. I was one of the co-ordinators.

The AAN held rallies. And postered the campus. We occupied the President’s office. We had guest speakers from the ANC. But the university administration was pretty resolute about not giving in.

In September 1987, there was a provincial election. And I was a voter contact organizer in a local campaign. I learned this amazingly obvious idea – asking people who will vote how they plan to use it.

When the election campaign was done, I went to our AAN meeting and talked with my friends about this amazing method – canvassing! We set a plan.

There we were, 20-somethings phoning-up bank vice-presidents and other members of the UofT Board of Governors, in the evening, in their homes. We asked them, personally, if they thought our university should invest in apartheid.

And when anonymity disappeared, so did the resoluteness of the university. Within weeks they capitulated.

And I learned, if you want to win, you need a passion. And you need to have a plan.

I’m a nominee to be your NDP candidate for Parkdale-High Park because all my life I’ve been fighting injustice and fighting for people. Join me, and let’s fight for childcare, a drug plan for all, better transit, affordable housing — let’s fight for the Canada we want.

Public services combat inequality — and I’ve always fought for them.

In the 1990s the Conservative government wanted to upload TTC’s Wheel-Trans and privatize it – sound familiar? Because to those guys, nothing’s ever worth anything unless someone can profit off it.

I was hired as the Amalgamated Transit Union Canada’s research director to fight transit privatization – especially at TTC’s WheelTrans.

From talking with WheelTrans passengers, I saw how much the service mattered to them. And I also saw there was a close relationship between WheelTrans drivers and passengers.

Drivers often worked with the same passengers everyday, getting them to work and back. Our campaign kept WheelTrans drivers informed about the government wanted to do. And we encouraged them to talk with passengers about it – bus drivers can be a very chatty group!

The government backtracked. I think the privatization was stopped because that service really mattered to it’s passengers. And the government didn’t want every WheelTrans bus getting booked for a ride to a Queen’s Park demonstration!

I’m Tom Parkin, nominee to be your NDP candidate in Parkdale-High Park. Public services are an important equalizer in an increasingly unequal Canada.

I’m proud of public service values. They’re NDP values. They’re Parkdale-High Park values. Let’s expand public services — not cut them. Let’s bring people together — not divide them. Let’s fight for workers and our environment — not let inequality spiral out of control and carbon emissions rise.

Those are the values New Democrats in Parkdale-High Park stand for. Join me and together, let’s make the Canada we want.

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