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Meet the Candidates – Terry Dowdall, Conservative

September 16, 2021   ·   0 Comments

Questions by Wendy Gabrek

Full Name: Terry Dowdall

Town of Residence: New Lowell

Length of time living in Simcoe–Grey: 28 years

Primary reason you’re running

I am running for re-election to continue to bring the priorities of our region to Ottawa. I have had the opportunity to put pressure on the government to improve programs to help small businesses, to promote tourism, and to push for better support for seniors. I am also hearing a lot right now in the riding about affordability, about health care, and the need to better support our veterans. These are some of the top priorities I hear when speaking with constituents and if I have their trust to continue to represent them I will continue to be a strong advocate on their behalf. We have a robust platform to address these issues and more. I encourage everyone to read it:

Political Experience: I have been the Member of Parliament for the past two years. Prior to that I had 18 years of experience at the municipal level. I served the Township of Essa as mayor, deputy mayor, and as councillor. I was a Simcoe County councillor for 15 years and twice served as Deputy Warden. I have also served three terms on the board of directors of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.

Campaign objectives: I believe this is the way to best understand the priorities of the people. In addition to some of the priorities I outlined above, I also hear people at the door asking about our Conservative plans for housing and for the environment. People care about these issues but are disillusioned with how they are being handled. They are interested in a different approach. I want to talk about ideas in a positive way and run a clean and respectful campaign.

What is your leadership style and how will that positively impact the riding?

I am an inclusive leader. I think much of that stems from my municipal background where you have to cooperate to get things done. One of the biggest surprises during my time in Ottawa has been how little cooperation there is. Even with a pandemic and a minority government, opposition MPs were told nothing about programming that would be launched, we were not asked our opinions, or about the priorities of our constituents. Some of the COVID-19 programs had serious flaws in them that were apparent from the day they were launched. Even a little cooperation or consultation by the government would have fixed these programs. Instead, people in desperate need had to wait months while we had to exert enormous pressure in the House of Commons to make small common-sense changes to help people. We need less partisanship and animosity, and more cooperation in Ottawa. I am the type of leader who wants to make that happen.

What are the most important challenges facing the riding of Simcoe-Grey today?

Affordability is really becoming an increasingly problematic issue. I hear a lot of concerns from seniors who are worried about being able to stay in their homes or even in the region. Businesses cannot find workers because many cannot afford to live here. Even middle-class two-income families are worried about the future with policies like the carbon tax and rapidly increasing inflation. We need to address the cost of living for everyone because it impacts everyone, but especially the most vulnerable people like seniors or people with a disability.

I hear a lot from tourism-related enterprises about how devastating COVID-19 was and they wonder if they can ever come back from it. Many of them have lost over a year’s worth of income. Loans and grants helped keep them afloat, but now they’re trying to get their clients back and pay back borrowed money.

I am hearing more and more about health care and from veterans as well. The pandemic has taken a real toll on people. Whether they have been needing a routine surgery that keeps getting delayed or they are a veteran trying to access benefits, many people feel left behind.

What is your policy/opinion on COVID-19 passports, vaccinations?

I encourage everyone to get vaccinated. However, I also understand that some people have objections, whether they be for health, moral or religious reasons. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Conservative Party has been calling for rapid testing. We have more rapid tests now than earlier in the pandemic, but can do better still. Regular rapid testing is so tremendously important in fighting COVID-19.

We believe that we can respect peoples’ individual health choices while ensuring COVID-19 does not spread through the use of vaccinations, rapid testing, and the use of masks. Let’s not make individual health choices a partisan issue to further divide Canadians.

How have you seen change in the riding since COVID-19 struck?

When COVID-19 initially struck and everyone started to work from home, my offices were bombarded with complaints about the speed of the internet. It has always been less-than-desirable, but COVID-19 almost brought it to a standstill. My colleagues and I put tremendous pressure on the government to ramp up investments. It isn’t going as fast as I would like, but there is progress. These investments need to continue if we truly want to have a hybrid work model like many are talking about. Our Conservative plan will connect all Canadians to high-speed internet by 2025.

I have also seen the impact that the decision to close down businesses had on our local economy and how the rushed and poorly planned programs of the federal government made matters worse. To this very day, there are businesses that cannot get help for a number of small, frustrating reasons which should have never been problems if the government would have consulted more widely.

But I have also seen some good changes. Things like community members coming together to take care of one another, especially our seniors. We have seen municipalities increase the use of outdoor commercial spaces, which I believe makes our communities more vibrant. I have also seen a noticeable increase in the amount of people getting outside in general. We already have a pretty active population in our region, but the lockdowns made us appreciate the outdoor recreation spaces even more.

As it pertains to COVID–19 specifically, what can our riding do to ensure the safety of community members now, and into the future? (What has COVID-19 taught us?)

One thing it has taught us is the importance of public health. Even simple things like keeping spaces clean and washing your hands have become critical actions. I like to think that the work we have done preventing COVID-19 will also help us stop the spread of the flu and colds in the future.

As I alluded to above, I think we have all come to appreciate what we have in our region since we were prevented from travelling for so long. Many people have told me how much more family gatherings have meant since restrictions were lifted.

But I think most of what we have learned is still yet to come. We need a real non-partisan review of the whole COVID-19 response. Canada was caught very flat-footed and the government made many mistakes, especially at the beginning. Our Conservative plan talks about producing PPE in Canada and ensuring there is always an adequate – non-expired – supply available. Initiatives like more vaccine research and the abilities to create them domestically are also priorities we believe in and will pursue. It is sad to see how COVID-19 has become a partisan issue. It should not be. I hope we can look objectively at Canada’s response and plan better for the next time.

As it pertains to New Tecumseth specifically, what can constituents expect under your leadership?

Residents of New Tecumseth can expect leadership that is open, honest, and transparent. I am a pretty straight-forward guy. Someone who likes to reach out. Someone who likes to be in contact with people. As anyone who filled out one of my questionnaires knows, I like to take the time to make calls to constituents, even when I am in Ottawa. When I am in the riding, I like to knock on doors and attend events. People know me as an honest person. Someone who is not a hyper-partisan. I like to bring people together, not divide them. That’s my leadership style.

What are your thoughts on the timing of this election?

Erin O’Toole and I both agree this was a poor time for an election. Everyone knew what was happening in Afghanistan, where we have had to sit by and watch Canada’s friends and allies die at the hands of the Taliban. Everyone also knew that the delta variant is out there. You need a government at the wheel, so to speak, to respond to important matters like these. But, unfortunately, we do not.

The Liberals were able to pass every bill they wanted to with the help of the NDP. There was no confidence vote that the government lost. Our fixed election date law was completely disregarded. This election is about the Prime Minister’s personal ambition and nothing more.

What are your priorities for change in our riding – both in the short-term and in the long term?

My priorities are the priorities of the people of Simcoe—Grey. Seniors issues are important here. Many people are disappointed with the government’s lack of support for seniors during the pandemic. I know I supported a motion in the House of Commons to increase Old Age Security by $110 per month as a good start. Liberals voted against that. Instead, they are offering about half that to seniors 75 and over. That is just not good enough.

I am hearing a lot about health care again. While it is the province which determines health priorities, I am pleased to say that a Conservative government will double health care transfers to the provinces. This will inject nearly $60 billion into our health care system over the next ten years. It means that our local hospitals will be able to keep existing services and even expand.

Housing and affordability are big issues right now as well. Conservatives have a robust plan to tackle the housing crisis and make life more affordable. As an immediate step, we will ban foreign investors not living in or moving to Canada, from buying homes here for a two-year period, after which it will be reviewed. We will incent developers to build the housing Canadians both want and need, by encouraging Canadians to invest in rental housing by extending the ability to defer capital gains tax when selling a rental property and reinvesting in rental housing, something that is currently excluded. Further, we will encourage a new market in seven- to ten-year mortgages to provide stability both for first-time home buyers and lenders, opening another secure path to homeownership for Canadians.

I am also hearing from a number of veterans in our riding who have difficulties accessing support. The last thing someone who has served our country needs is a bureaucratic run around, so we have a plan to help veterans get the support they need. Things like ending the mess of two benefit systems – Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) and Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) – that do not work together and replace them with one streamlined system of benefits from enlistment through service and retirement. Or empowering military doctors, who know the demands of service and the impact of injuries, to determine a service-related injury for all CAF and VAC purposes. These are just a few small changes that will help veterans. I encourage everyone to read our platform to learn more.

What are some the fiscal challenges facing our riding, and how can we address them?

The fiscal challenges in Simcoe—Grey at the moment are mostly related to cost of living for just about everyone, but seniors and middle-class families especially. It is hard to get by, and almost impossible to get ahead.

Of course, though, the fiscal situation the whole country faces impacts us here in Simcoe—Grey. Canada is facing deficits of a size not seen since the Second World War. It has been important to support Canadians in need, but the government was already $28.1 billion in deficit before the pandemic. With more than a ten-fold increase in spending since COVID-19 began, Canada has now surpassed $1 trillion in national debt for the first time in history. Every man, woman and child in this country already owes $30,000 as their share of that debt. Said another way, the government’s spending means that a new born already has a university graduate’s debt load before they are a day old. Clearly, these are unsustainable levels of spending and accumulated debt. Our Conservative plan will have the deficit paid down over 10 years. We believe that is a reasonable plan, but we need to be elected to implement it.

Open – anything else?

I just hope to meet as many constituents as possible to hear their views. I hope the campaigns stay positive and avoid nasty partisan and personal attacks. I do not tolerate that behaviour on my campaign. I hope everyone exercises their right to vote.


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