Oshawa has been a Conservative stronghold since 2004.
But the incumbent Colin Carrie is now defending his seat against some political newcomers — including 22-year-old NDP candidate Shailene Panylo, who has lived in Oshawa her whole life and thinks it’s time for change.
“We need a different narrative of what politicians can be,” Panylo says.
Panylo was raised by adopted parents who are also seniors, which gives her a unique perspective, she says.
“I’m very well aware of the struggles they are going through,” she says. “It’s also something I’m very passionate about. Whether it’s pharmacare, healthcare, pensions or affordable housing, I know these are problems.”
Carrie has been representing Oshawa residents for the past 15 years.
Although the federal Conservatives are getting linked to the Ontario Progressive Conservatives, Carrie says the two are very different.
“People are thinking we are a party of cuts, but we have been very clear that we will be giving even more to social programs,” Carrie says. “It’s these deficits and irresponsible program spending that puts us in jeopardy.”
He adds that with the impending closure of General Motors at the end of this year, it’s important someone with experience continues to fight for the riding and revitalize the city.
“I think experience matters. When we’re going through difficult times, somebody who has been there through these challenging times before really is an asset to our community.”
Liberal candidate Afroza Hossain has been working with newcomers to the country for more than 10 years. She says she understands the struggles people have in today’s economy and believes the Liberal Party will help people move forward with their lives.
“Every day I hear anxieties: ‘How can we pay our bills? How can we put food on the table? How can we pay our rent in a sustainable manner?'” Hossain says.
“I want to help Oshawa build up from the ground up again. It’s a changing culture, changing environment, and technologically, we need to change a lot. That’s what the Liberal Party can do.”
While the Green Party is focusing on climate change, 25-year-old candidate Jovannah Ramsden says she understands economic struggle, having lived in a low-income family and moved at least 10 times in her life.
Ramsden says we need more government coverage for dental care and mental health care.
“It’s not enough,” she says. “All of these things play into overall health and they should be included as well. If you can’t afford dental care, you don’t get it, and that’s not right.”
Ramsden has lived in the region for 10 years. She says even though GM helped build Oshawa, the city can make a name for itself in other ways.
“There’s so much that we can be doing,” she says. “We were an innovator of General Motors. The same can be done for renewable energy and taking that technology and spreading it out.”
Running for the People’s Party of Canada is Eric Mackenzie, who was born in Oshawa and is also a newcomer to politics.