Parry Sound—Muskoka, a riding that has been Conservative for a quarter of a century, is on the cusp of going Green. To find out what’s changed, just knock on a few doors and listen to what people have to say.
I love this riding and I know it well. This is my fifth time as a candidate here. That’s a lot of driving and door-knocking in this beautiful riding that covers nearly 20,000 square kilometers and is home to six First Nations and 100,000 voters.
A casual drive through the riding might give you the impression that this is among one of the wealthiest regions in Canada. But the lived reality for many here is far more complicated. For the last 25 years, the cost of living has gone up, housing prices are through the roof, seniors can’t get the care they need in the time they need it, and too many working people, just trying to make ends meet, face an uncertain future. On the doorstep, I’m running into people who have been traditional Progressive Conservative voters but are not happy that Doug Ford’s administration has cut funding to schools, health-care programs and support services while pushing infrastructure projects like the $10-billion Highway 413 and Bradford Bypass that we don’t need and can’t afford.
People are fed up with the status quo. They’re ready for change. And a lot of them feel like no one is listening.
Matt Richter (left) and Mike Schreiner chat in Parry Sound on May 28, 2022. (Richard Lautens/Toronto Star)
When I talk to teachers and bus drivers, contractors and small business owners, doctors and nurses, retired seniors or their caregivers, what I hear most often at the door is that no one is listening to them. They have been working hard all their lives and now their future is uncertain. For many, a knock on the door by the Ontario Greens is the first time anyone from a political party has come to their door in this election. They’re tired of being taken for granted. They don’t appreciate the license bribes and veiled threats that if they don’t vote PC they won’t get the hospitals they were promised.
When Norm Miller announced he would not seek re-election after 21 years as the MPP for the riding, our campaign team knew this would be an opportunity for us. It's hard to defeat a well-liked incumbent. We knew this election would be about Doug Ford and his government and even with a well-known, local mayor running for them, the PCs would have to work hard for their vote. Having the Liberals withdraw their candidate at the last minute and not offer a replacement also changes the dynamic. We saw our momentum grow significantly after the televised leaders debate based on the strong performance by Mike Schreiner.
Our number of volunteers is now in the hundreds and we have had over a thousand sign requests. It feels different. Voters are telling us they want someone who won’t have to answer to a party and can put the people of this riding first.
A lot of people in Parry Sound—Muskoka can barely afford to fill up their gas tank just to get to work or to see family or friends. Many of them know someone who is struggling with a mental illness but can’t find the support they need. And people here know that we must do something about climate change. They welcome a conversation about how best to do it in a way that supports good jobs and keeps our energy system sustainable and strong year-round.
Now that the polls are showing we can win in this election our job is to remind people how important it is to vote. This election comes down to priorities. For me and the Ontario Greens, our priority is to put people first. We’re listening. Parry Sound—Muskoka is ready for change — for a new way forward that turns the page on politics as usual — and I stand with them.
Matthew Richter is the Green candidate for Parry Sound—Muskoka.
QP Briefing and iPolitics asked the leaders of each of Ontario's four main parties to contribute an op-ed to speak directly to voters before election day.
And Liberal leader Steven Del Duca did not submit an op-ed by deadline.