A conversation with Matt Gabriel, federal NDP candidate for Leeds-Grenville

April 9, 2011

What’s the burning election issue this time in Leeds-Grenville?

What we lack in Leeds-Grenville is representation.  As a constituent when I look around and see the loss of jobs, the loss of youth, the fact that we are basically becoming a dilapidated area that doesn’t have a lot to offer to our youth, to people who have lost their jobs, to people who have put their roots down here.

When I graduated from high school in 1991 the job prospects were Dupont, Nitrochem, Grenville Castings, Sherwood Packaging, SCI, Selkirk ,  Pirelli Cable, Phillips Cable, Hershey.  These were career jobs with good pay and benefits.  If you were lucky enough to get one of these jobs after high school or a few years of college or university, you could set down your roots, start your mortgage and raise a family, much like your parents did before you.

Now these jobs have walked away half-way through the dream.  The corporate tax cuts and the trickle-down effect haven’t worked.  We’re in a state now where the good jobs have left or in the process of leaving and my generation are unsure of their future.

We need effective change and we have the opportunity through the ballot box to start to turn the ship around now.

The eroding middle class.  Someone who has never gone without isn’t capable of understanding the perspective of someone who does on a regular basis.  I don’t feel that my needs or the needs of my friends or family or neighbours are being met when it comes to that perspective.  I’m a single father and I have gone without to provide for  my daughter.  Someone who has not faced tough choices when the bills come in can’t understand that.

What have you learned so far in the campaign?

Most of what I have learned is from the constituents I have talked to.  The issues are there, but it all depends on their station in life what is prevalent in their life.  If they’re worried about the HST and hydro, it’s a huge concern for them.

I’ve been canvassing since 19 Feb.  When you talk to people who have worked their entire life, you see they’re having a hard time making ends meet.   Gas prices are a real big issue with how much they’re paying for it.  They feel over-taxed.  Income, gas, and HST.  Triple dip.  That’s at the front of what people have to say, especially those on a fixed income.

I’m surprised at how accommodating and nice the people of North Leeds are.  Last Saturday I was in Elgin and regardless of political beliefs or the  fact that I was interfering with their Saturday afternoon, people invited me into their homes or their yards and treated me with respect and we engaged in a meaningful conversation. These people are reflective of how nice an area Elgin is.

Why are we in an election campaign right now?

We can blame the parties, but at the end of the day the government hasn’t been working, and that’s why we’re here.

What’s the ballot question?

From the Leeds-Grenville perspective, I think the question is are we prepared to accept a change (Matthew Gabriel, NDP) or stick with the status quo (Conservative) or what is comfortable (Liberal)?

What does the NDP have to offer to Canadians today?

Change and representation for the working class and those with fixed income.  And people in general before corporate interests.

Why I gravitated towards the NDP beside the influence from the late Steve Armstrong is the fact of the free vote.  We’re not forced to vote with the party.

I’m only interested in toeing the line of the constituents of Leeds-Grenville, by finding out the issues through an open dialogue and being available and making informed decisions based upon consensus.

Part of the reason I am stepping up is I don’t like dirty politics.  We can all see how the signs are fighting for position all across the district but on Hwy 42 in particular.  From an environmental perspective the candidates are creating a lot of landfill.  I hereby promise that there will only be three hundred orange Matt Gabriel signs printed, so when you see one, pay close attention.  That’s what we’re doing for the environment:  cutting down on sign pollution.

How do you see yourself as a politician?

I don’t see myself as a politician.  I see myself as a representative.  I’ve developed this skill as a union steward.  I see myself standing up for others, who sometimes aren’t in a position to help themselves.

What would the new government have to do differently in Ottawa to succeed?

They have to work together and put the interests of the people that have elected them first and not lose track of the fact that that is why they are there.  The conservatives are hugging the power and trying to keep the power, but they lost track that they are there to serve the people of Canada and not just their own interests.

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One Response to “A conversation with Matt Gabriel, federal NDP candidate for Leeds-Grenville”

  1. Harold Hellam Says:

    Dear Matthew I was the man who sang the National Anthem at the last election night to meet the candidates at the Civic Center in Kemptville. We had a discussion in the lobby, after the meeting, about where was all the money coming from and who was going to receive it . Each candidate was asked what they could do to stimulate the economy and make more jobs. They all had the same answer, pour more money into the economy. We both agreed that this was not the answer,nor the means of keeping and creating more jobs. As you know Canada is bleeding from the fact that we are losing all of our manufacturing and jobs to China and other third world countries. There is no future for Canadian workers left in Canada. I truly believe China wants this country and will acquire it without firing one shot by, a silent invasion from within, by destroying the very structure that we have built.. for ourselves and our children. I am sending you a copy of a recent editorial I wrote and just sent to the local newspaper, The Grenville Times. If you feel I can be of any help in getting you elected let me know. Harold Hellam


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