The Windsor-West NDP provincial riding association picks their new candidate tonight for an upcoming by-election for the riding from which former Minister of Finance Dwight Duncan resigned on February 7, 2013.
Percy Hatfield, a local city councilor for ward seven, has put his name forward for the nomination.
“I have a voice that can be heard across the region and across the province,” said Hatfield referencing his public persona. “I’ve got the experience and the passion and the commitment and I’ve been elected twice as a city councilor.”
Hatfield has also been appointed to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities three times, to the board at the Association of Municipalities of Ontario three times and has chaired the Large Urban Caucus at AMO.
“I know all the issue and I know all the players as a reporter,” said Hatfield referencing his past experience as a reporter with CBC. “I’ve gone around the province four times with various leaders on their campaign buses. I was with Peterson when he became Premier in ’85, I was with Bob Rae in 85′ when he lost and I went around twice with Howard Hampton.”
Hatfield believes Andrea Horwath will be the next premier of Ontario. “I think she’s the best leader for the job at the best time. I think people have lost respect for the Liberals, for their many screw-ups.”
Hatfield noted the Liberals’ handling of the cancellation of the harness racing industry and the loss of 2,000 jobs across the province as a result, the Grace Hospital site portfolio and the local Health Unit as examples of the current Liberal government’s failures.
“We have higher rates of degrees and various diseases down here and yet provincial funding for the Health Unit is the lowest in Ontario,” lamented Hatfield who believes that the Liberal government needs a “tune-up” and to “get a message” from Ontarians.
Hatfield, who only joined the NDP when he decided to seek the nomination, explained that as a reporter for more than thirty years, that he could never join a party before and had to remain neutral.
“As a city councilor, I tried being an independent and I knew I had to work with Conservatives in Ottawa and Liberals in Queens Park,” said Hatfield. “I always maintained that independence until I lost respect for the Liberals and the key thing for me was local harness racing because I know many of the people involved in that.”
In regards to the jump from municipal politics to provincial, Hatfield expressed that it “happens all the time” and that “municipal politics is like a stepping stone to provincial or federal politics.”
When asked about how he would represent Windsor on the provincial stage, Hatfield responded that unless a general election was called, that he would be going into the legislature through a by-election and that as such, he’d be entering as an opposition member and would be “going in there to stand up for the issues affecting people down here.”
“You’re talking about jobs and the economy, health care [and] education,” said Hatfield. “You’ve got to keep these Liberals on their toes, you’ve got to remind them about broken promises. You’ve got to make them stand up and deliver and I think I can do that.”
Hatfield believes that Windsor-East is in need of a voice as the riding is currently unrepresented in the legislature.
“They haven’t had a voice for three months and until the premier calls a by-election, they won’t have a voice,” said Hatfield referencing Dwight Duncan’s vacant seat. “She was down here saying Windsor was one of Ontario’s best kept secrets. It’s not that it’s a secret. It’s that she hasn’t been listening to what’s been going on down here. She has to be reminded what her policies have done.”
Hatfield feels optimistic about the night, but is not taking anything for granted.
“Nominations are how many people you get out and who actually shows up and votes,” said Hatfield. “I’m not taking anything for granted at all … this could go either way.”
Jonathon Liedtke is the Features & Opinion Editor for the University of Windsor Lance Campus/Community Newspaper and a reporter for ourWindsor.ca. As a founding member and current Co-Chair of the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Committee, he is committed to representing, connecting, engaging with and advocating for local youth. He is also a member of Windsor’s “Punk with Horns” band The Nefidovs, and as such, is committed to enhancing and sustaining the arts community.