By Charlie Senack, Manotick Messenger
Background: In the last election, the Liberals in Carleton came in third place with a little over 19 per cent of the vote. In this election Tom Dawson is running as the Liberal candidate. Dawson was born and raised in Osgoode, and has worked for Canadians over the past two decades, including as a diplomat. Dawson’s great-grandfather Adam Acres was the MPP for Carleton from 1923 to 1948.
Q: It seems politics runs through your blood. Why are you running as the Liberal candidate in Carleton?
A: I’ve been involved in community activities from the gecko. I was in the first Osgoode Scout troop back in the day, I volunteered on the Osgoode Village Community Association, and it was a real privilege to be the chair of the Winchester Hospital foundation. I want the best for my hometown and riding. I think we deserve better and more responsive representation; that’s what I keep hearing at the doors constantly.
Q: Saying you are the next representative to Queens Park, what are some of the biggest priorities that are on your mind?
A: My issues have to be the residents’ issues. What I’m hearing day after day, at every second door, is affordability, cost of living, and housing. That’s closely followed by healthcare and education. Parents who have kids, parents who have their own aging parents are worried about them. The last few years of this pandemic, everyone is really starting to focus on what’s important to them at the core. It comes down to their friends, family and community, and also being able to thrive. I don’t think that’s happening right now.
Q: The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly changed circumstances for a lot of people. How well do you think think the government handled response to this health crisis over the last two years?
A: I think any leader, any politician, anyone in an authority position could have been forgiven for how they handled the first or second wave; it’s something that no one had seen in 100 years. But in times of crisis you need to learn, adapt and be flexible. I think that’s what we didn’t see from the Ford government. I think an example of that is the decision to lift the mask mandate immediately after March Break. It’s a period where people are out and about, some people are out on vacation again… At least give it a few weeks to see how we are doing. Ontario was the most locked down part of the western world for schools, and that wasn’t good for kids, that wasn’t good for parents. I’d like to bring the ability to learn from what’s happened and apply it immediately.
Q: Education and schools is always a big issue in Carleton, especially when it comes to overcrowding in Findlay Creek and Riverside South. How would a Liberal government better schooling for kids in the community?
A: The fact that we have these demographics, lots of families with kids who are aging, yet we don’t have enough schools keeping pace. In Findlay creek for example there should have been a highschool in walking distance in the works ages ago. The parents that I’ve spoken to love our idea of lower class sizes because they want kids to have more individual attention, especially after the last few years. We are bringing in mental health support for students and staff, and that brings a wave of relief across peoples faces because everyone acknowledges it’s been a tough time and might need some support.
Q: The Liberal Party has recently launched their full campaign platform which includes the promise of $1 a fare transit or $40 for a monthly pass. It sounds great on paper but where does that funding come from and how will it benefit Carleton residents who have limited access or no access to public transit?
A:Part of the plan is to expand bus service and public transport for citizens who want it. For example, Metcalfe has one bus a week. Maybe that’s all they want, but maybe they want more, so we need to find out. I know Findlay Creek and Riverside South want more bus service so that’s something we’d ramp up. Now that you have the option of $1 a fare, which is half a litre of gas, people are paying attention to that. When I talk about a plan I can stand behind, all the numbers are there; anyone can read how much it’s going to cost.