It’s a little more than a month since I announced I want to be Sudbury’s next member of provincial parliament, and that I would seek the nomination for the Ontario Liberal Party. And, what’s surprised me is how often I get asked about other people. What do you think of the NDP’s Joe Cimino? What about the Conservative, Paula Peroni?
My reply is simple: I don’t know them. And, even if I did, what difference does it make what I think of them personally? I’m campaigning because I want to talk about Sudbury and how we can make it an even better place. I want to talk about you and what you want and need.
I believe negative politics is one of the traits that turns people off voting and serves as a deterrent for good people to seek office. I will be honest in saying it was something that made me pause for thought before announcing. This kind of American-style politics is consuming the process and the ugliness, I believe, is one of the reasons why voter apathy is so high and voter turnouts are so low, in my opinion. It needs to change.
Yes, I’m a Liberal and maybe it’s bad strategy to say what I’m about to say — but, the fact is it was a Conservative MP, Steven Fletcher, who inspired me to consider a career in politics on Family Day three years ago through his passion and commitment to his community.
The reality is, I admire Sudbury’s NDP MP, Glenn Thibeault, for his work ethic and community-minded constituency work. And, although I don’t know Cimino personally, I do know he is a city councillor and I respect anyone who puts their name on a ballot and serves their community. The same can be said for Peroni who has been a school board trustee for a number of years. I can assure you they don’t do it for the money, that’s for sure. They do it because they believe in something.
The fact is, regardless of what party we represent, we all have the same goal: to make Sudbury an even greater place than it is right now. Our economy is doing well and we want it to do even better on the jobs front. Our downtown is revitalized and we want to keep that momentum going. Our environment is cleaner but there’s still work to do on that front.
That’s what I want — and I’m sure it’s what Cimino and Peroni want for our community as lifelong Sudburians. We all want the best for our community, our families and our neighbours. We just disagree on the best way to get there. And, that’s what elections should be about — debating the ideas, dreams and vision that will help us get to our common goal. It should not be about personal attacks. It’s beneath us. We’re better than that.
Now, some have suggested I’m not being realistic — and that at some point you have to “go negative” during political campaigns because that’s what works. Well, I won’t do that. I’ve told my team I won’t go there. I may critique the other party’s platforms but not the actual people. That’s who I am and it’s what my friends, family and supporters would expect from me.
If that’s what it takes to win, I’d rather lose and stay true to myself. Our city and its people deserve better. We’re all in this boat together, regardless of political party, and now — more than ever — we need to focus on the common goal of keeping Sudbury strong.
-- Andrew Olivier is seeking the nomination for the Ontario Liberal Party in Sudbury.