Tom Parkin for Parkdale-High Park

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

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.

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