By Kevin Werner, News Staff
The new provincial NDP candidate for Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale lost no time after winning her nomination race in calling incumbent Liberal MPP Ted McMeekin a “vulnerable” candidate who tries to buy votes during election time.
Ancaster trustee Alex Johnstone defeated Nancy MacBain who was trying to represent the riding a second time, but at the provincial level, for the ADFW’s candidacy May 14 in Dundas.
About 100 people showed up at the Dundas Lions Memorial Community Centre to decide their NDP nominee. Johnstone said McMeekin, who has represented the riding since 2001, attended a recent elementary school accommodation review committee meeting before the election and had proposed to save a few schools.
“I think it is a slap in the face to the other accommodation review that had taken place,” said Johnstone. “If the election was called two years ago would Ted have shown up with money to save Prince Philip (in Ainslie Wood)?”
Johnstone said when she asked McMeekin to help build a new high school in Ancaster, she was dismissed.
“Ted’s response, you need to put together a business case,” said Johnstone.
She also said that after the Liberals removed the subsidy from the horse racing industry, they soon provided funding to the organization to help prop up Liberal MPPs such as McMeekin.
“That was an attempt to secure Ted’s votes,” said Johnstone. “The Liberals have lost so many of what was previously their strongholds (inHamilton) I think the Liberals are scared.”
She pointed out during the first weeks of the campaign McMeekin was attacking the NDP even though there was no candidate yet nominated in the riding.
“That is a pretty telling sign that the Liberals and Ted see the NDP as a threat,” she said.
Johnstone said she backs providing funding for Hamilton’s light-rail transit system, and is against the Mid-Peninsula Highway. But Johnstone said the reason she jumped into the provincial race is to help change the education system.
“The funding formula needs to be under review,” she said. “Hamilton and school boards across the province are being told to close schools. So many of the local initiatives are restricted by provincial policy.”
The 31-year-old Johnstone is originally from Kincardine, but moved to Ancaster. She won the federal NDP nomination in 2009, but soon quite the race to run instead in the 2010 municipal election for trustee. MacBain, who works at McMaster University, replaced Johnstone in the federal election and placed third.
In the 2011 provincial election, McMeekin captured 21,646 votes, while Progressive Conservative candidate Donna Skelly, who is running again, took 17,120 votes. The NDP’s Trevor Westerhoff finished a distant third with 8,154 votes.
Despite the NDP’s poor election showings in the riding, Johnstone says the riding can be won by the NDP. She doesn’t believe McMeekin is all that popular, and that voters have only supported the former mayor of Flamborough because they are afraid of what the Progressive Conservatives will do to the province.
“People are holding their noses and voting strategically,” she said. “People are very concerned about the Progressive Conservative platform. People are looking for change, a party that puts people first.”
The long-time NDP party worker said this won’t be the last time she seeks provincial office regardless of the June 12 election results.
“I don’t just plan on being a candidate this time around,” she said. “I plan on being the candidate in multiply elections.”