While June 7 may seem far away, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne has “unofficially” begun campaigning for this year’s provincial election, with one of her first stops taking place at Humber College’s Lakeshore campus.
Wynne, who made the appearance Friday morning, arrived to a packed room in Humber’s Centre for Entrepreneurship. The premier hit the ground running by delivering a sweeping speech.
The province’s recent OSAP alterations, the newly implemented OHIP+ program and plans to increase the minimum wage further were all on the premier’s docket. But Wynne came full circle to the point of the visit’s theme: getting the student vote.
“You are the current generation of leaders. You are leaders already. And it’s important for me to hear your concerns, to hear your ideas, of how we can build an even better Ontario,” Wynne said.
And hear student’s concerns she did.
Deyja Esco, a Humber College student studying Advertising and Graphic Design, didn’t hold back, immediately pointing out last semester’s college faculty strike.
“We had the strike and students lost out on that. We really did lose out the most out of everybody,” said Esco.
Wynne responded to Esco’s frankness with a combined dosage of sympathy and realism.
“I know you were caught in the middle in terms of the strike. I really wish that hadn’t happened. Having said that, I believe in the collective bargaining process,” Wynne said.
“What I don’t believe in is the extended nature of what happened. [We’re looking at] how we can make sure that, not that they’ll never be labour action again, but that there [won’t] be a lengthy process [again].”
Wynne also made time to talk about the newly elected leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario, Doug Ford. “In every opportunity, Doug Ford talks about running government more like a business,” said Wynne.
“Boosting profits, cutting taxes for the richest among us. I fundamentally disagree with that approach. That is in direct opposition to what I believe we should be doing.”
As she wrapped up, she included one last plea to the room’s youth: mark this year’s voting day on your calendars, no matter what political stance you hold.
“The reality is, young people, vote at a much, much lower rate than older people,” Wynne said. “Of course, I would love you to be supporting us. But, quite frankly, I’d rather you just come out and make your voice heard, whatever your political stripe is.”
While a recent poll by Leger, a Canadian-owned research and marketing firm, suggest Ontario’s voters would vote Ford over Wynne for premier, Wynne did not falter when asking for people’s support during her visit to Humber College.
“I believe that if we stay focused, we can build an Ontario where, together, we care for one another, and be the very best jurisdiction in the world,” Wynne said. “This spring I hope you’ll join me. Most importantly, for me, is that you take part in the democratic process.”