With a provincial election coming up in six months, two local riding associations have nominated their candidates, and the Liberal Party candidate is acclaimed, although not officially yet.
The NDP nomination meeting held last Thursday confirmed Niagara Falls MPP Wayne Gates will be running again in the June 2022 election, for the riding which includes Niagara-on-the-Lake and Fort Erie.
Gates has represented the riding since he was elected in a by-election in 2014, and is currently the NDP’s critic for Workplace Health and Safety, Training, Trades and Apprenticeships, and Auto Strategy.
Bob Gale, currently a regional councillor representing Niagara Falls, was chosen to represent the Conservative party for the riding
The Niagara Falls Liberal provincial riding association had two candidates vying to represent their party, and expected to hold a nomination election Dec. 11, but former Niagara-on-the-Lake town councillor Terry Flynn told The Local Tuesday he has made the decision to drop out of the race.
Ashley Waters of Niagara Falls remains the only candidate, so is expected to be officially nominated to represent the riding.
Flynn, well-known in NOTL for his municipal political career, which spanned 21 years, and his community involvement, had announced he was running, but has decided this is not the time for him. He withdrew from the nomination race Sunday.
He has recently retired from decades of service as a volunteer firefighter in NOTL, and while currently superintendent of operations for the Niagara Region EMS, he has plans to retire from a career with that service in the spring, and said recently, “there are bets on that I won’t go.”
They could be winning bets — with healthcare in its current situation, understaffed due to COVID, and the resulting strain on paramedics, Flynn says he feels needed more than ever, and is now seriously reconsidering retirement. “I’m just not sure right now. It’s something I love to do, that I have a passion for, and something that I feel makes a difference, so why would I give it up?”
With work commitments, and the Liberals gearing up now for the election while he is still heavily involved in selling Christmas trees for the Niagara Lions, Flynn says the time is not right for him. “I just couldn’t do it justice. I couldn’t do the residents justice.”
Also factoring in his decision, Flynn says, is the Ontario Liberal Party’s move to boost the number of young and female candidates, in some ridings only allowing women to run for the nomination in an effort to improve gender equity in its caucus.
Flynn says that has given him pause for reflection, and is yet another sign this is not his time.
There may be another opportunity in the future when the time feels right, or if he does retire in the spring, the NOTL mayoral race could be an option for him. If he continues to work, that puts his dream of running to become Lord Mayor of
Niagara-on-the-Lake off for another four years, but likely not out of his mind or heart forever.
With Flynn out of the contest, Niagara Falls resident Ashley Waters, although not confirmed, will represent her riding for the Liberals in the provincial election.
“I was inspired to put my name forward after seeing Steven Del Duca on The Agenda with Steve Paikin,” she says.
“When I heard the leader of the Liberal Party offer an invitation for female candidates to put their name forward, I thought if not now, then when, and if not me, then who?”
Waters, 37, is an honours political science graduate of Brock University. She’s a mother of two, and has been married to her husband Jeremy for 13 years.
For the last 11 years, she’s worked as manager of the non-profit Scouts Canada, and was a finalist for the 2021 Women in Business Awards, in the category of excellence in non-profit, sponsored by the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce.
Waters was a team lead for a fundraising event this summer for Pink Pearl Canada, an organization that supports young women affected by cancer, and raised more than $1,800. She also coached Niagara Falls soccer Titans travel team for girls under 9/8 years old, restarting the program for the club.
“I have always wanted to enter politics and effect change in my community for the better, to be a voice for those that feel voiceless and unheard,” says Waters, and also “to champion causes I feel strongly towards, such as education, healthcare and affordable housing.”
Waters was a founding member of NextNiagara, formed to represent the voice of the next generation in Niagara by creating opportunities for community engagement and empowerment; and sat on the Niagara Connects Council, to build action plans for transformative socio-economic change.
“I welcome the opportunity to represent our riding, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Niagara Falls, and Fort Erie, to effect change in our community, and would be honoured, given the chance, to champion the causes that concern my constituents in Niagara.”
When Bob Gale announced last spring that he wants to fight for his corner of Niagara at the provincial level, as a Conservative MPP, he acknowledged then he would have a run for his money, expecting Gates to seek another term, but says he has never shied away from competition.
“I was in business for a long time, sat on many high profile boards, and now have a term and a half of experience with regional council. I have thick skin, and I understand that this will be a challenging election. The fact is that Niagara needs a strong Conservative voice in a strong Conservative government to make sure that our unique needs are taken care of. I am ready to take that task head on.”
With his wife Vera, the Niagara businessman has owned Gale’s Gas Bars since 1980, and raised his family in Niagara-on-the-Lake. He now lives in St. Catharines, and owns several properties in Niagara Falls. His daughter Jessica, who lives in St. Davids, has taken over control of the company.
Gale says he wants to represent the riding at the provincial level to ensure Niagara isn’t left behind during the economic recovery from the pandemic, which has crippled small businesses and the tourism industry.
“Niagara needs a strong voice with a seat at the table as we recover from the economic impacts of the pandemic,” says Gale — economic recovery will be tough, and tourism is the industry hardest hit.
Healthcare and affordable homes are also priorities.
“I have had many meetings with Premier (Doug) Ford around bolstering healthcare capacity via the new hospital in Niagara Falls, and cutting red tape in order to get more houses built.
“I want to be there to help make business decisions on costs and services to the people. Niagara deserves someone who is a strong advocate for the region, and can bring their concerns directly to the Premier,” he says.