Tom Parkin for Parkdale-High Park

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

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.

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