THE RIDING: The electoral district of Simcoe North consists of the City of Orillia, towns of Midland and Penetanguishene, townships of Ramara, Severn, Tay and Tiny and Beausoleil First Nation. It spans about 2,380-square-kilometres and is home to more than 111,000 people, 49 per cent of whom are over the age 50.
THE RACE: There are six candidates currently vying for the open seat in Simcoe North. They include:
Brooks, a 28-year-old resident of Rama First Nation, is a First Nations advocate. She strongly advocates for missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and two spirit and federal Indigenous issues.
“As someone who has experienced marginalization and many social injustices, I feel I represent a vast majority of the local population and am able to utilize my past personal experiences to benefit others who are experiencing similar obstacles such as addiction, homelessness, Indigenous issues and the barriers that come with being an Indigenous woman, as well as environmental racism, which is one of the many contributing factors in the current climate crisis we are facing.”
Chambers, a 36-year-old father of two, lives in Port McNicoll. The assistant vice-president at Canada Life spent four years as a senior adviser to former federal finance minister Jim Flaherty.
“I live in Port McNicoll, just outside of Midland, with my wife Jane and our two kids, Davie and Cooper. It’s where I was born and raised. I know and understand the issues affecting the people in communities within Simcoe North.”
Durnford, a 53-year-old elementary school teacher, has lived in Orillia since she was eight-years-old. The mother of two has taught Grades 2 to 8 since 1991.
“I am best placed to represent this riding because I care deeply about the people of the riding, and I pledge to work hard, to listen and represent their best interests in Ottawa.”
Emo, a 58-year-old commercial insurance broker, lives in Kirkfield (a village in Kawartha Lakes.) The father of five has worked in the insurance industry for the past 20 years.
“We have had a lot of broken promises made and then covered with lies. Sadly, there have been no repercussions as longtime politicians have each other’s back. How can you possibly have a non-partisan ethics committee that is mostly made up of your own party? The government literally has a continuous get-out-of-jail free card. I have always owned up to my mistakes and accepted the consequences. It’s your moral and ethical duty to your constituents as they are the ones who trusted you enough to represent you in Ottawa.”
Wesley-Esquimaux, 64, is the chair of truth and reconciliation at Lakehead University. Prior to that she served as vice-chief for Anishnabek Nations for eight years.
“I live in Orillia, and have lived on the shores of Lake Simcoe for over two decades. I feel my experience over time doing public education, working with various levels of government, my knowledge of broader issues, my work on Indigenous reconciliation nationally and internationally, and my ability to educate and engage people is a significant asset.”
Makk, a 59-year-old owner and operator of a high-tech electronics design and manufacturing business, lives in Victoria Harbour. He enjoys the outdoors and cares about nature.
“I am best placed to represent the riding both due to my competence at communicating and understanding diverse viewpoints, but also because the PPC will not whip MPs’ votes. A PPC candidate can be the best advocate for the community because I can freely represent my constituents as they, and I, together wish.”
A variety of issues are top of mind for candidates and residents, including: affordable housing, protecting and conserving the environment, strengthening the county’s post-pandemic economy, following through on recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, supporting infrastructure in rural communities and long-term care for seniors.
Conservative MP Bruce Stanton has represented the people of Simcoe North since 2006, serving five consecutive terms. In the October 2019 election, Stanton received 43.5 per cent of the vote to edge out Liberal candidate Gerry Hawes and retain his seat on Parliament Hill.
Disclaimer: Poll results are not scientific. As the informal findings of a survey presented to the readers of this site, they reflect the opinions of those readers who have chosen to participate. The survey is available online to anyone who is interested in taking it.