Ted McMeekin is a good guy, HWAD seniors say, but his party has to go

James and Hillary Alton have voted red provincially for the last 18 years. But this election might just be enough to change their minds.

Three of the four major party candidates, minus PC candidate Ben Levitt, attended Tuesday's meeting

Sandy Shaw, Peter Ormond and Ted McMeekin fielded questions on health care, rent control, affordable housing and other issues. (Samantha Craggs/CBC)

James and Hillary Alton have voted red provincially for the last 18 years. But this election might just be enough to change their minds.

James is a retired Camco worker and union activist. Hillary is a retired teacher. They always liked the NDP, they say, but living in Dundas, an orange vote felt like a wasted one.

Like many at the all-candidates event on seniors' issues in the new riding of Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas Tuesday night, they like Liberal incumbent Ted McMeekin. But not even McMeekin's personal likeability is enough to sway them this time. 

"We supported McMeekin because he was the best person for our riding, and had the best chance of getting a seat, and had the most commitment to the riding," Hillary said.

James and Hillary Alton of Dundas say they like Ted McMeekin as an MPP but are tired of the Liberals. (Samantha Craggs/CBC)

But "now there's an option."

The Altons' sentiment was a common one at the Hamilton Spectator auditorium, where many seniors interviewed said McMeekin has been a good MPP, but they're tired of his government.

McMeekin, 70, showed off some of his folksy charm at the event, complimenting competitors Sandy Shaw of the NDP and Peter Ormond of the Green party. He also "proudly declared" that he too was a senior citizen.

"I want to argue that I have the experience to continue, a willingness to continue, the heart to continue," he said.

"If we have a minority government, I want to serve."

Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas candidates participated in an event held by the Hamilton Council on Aging and the Retired Teachers Federation of Ontario. From left: NDP candidate Sandy Shaw, Green candidate Peter Ormond and Liberal candidate Ted McMeekin. (Samantha Craggs/CBC)

Kenneth Jackson, 80, taught McMeekin at McMaster University and calls him a friend. So "there is a bond there," he said. "But I cannot vote for the Liberals for a third term."

"I'm a dyed-in-the-wool — pink wool — socialist, and I'm supporting the NDP."

Three of the four major party candidates attended Tuesday. PC candidate Ben Levitt wasn't there.

Levitt has committed to four all-candidates events, the same as McMeekin, said campaign manager Dan Muys. Levitt has attended an event McMeekin hasn't.

And they'll all be on deck for the largest riding event, which is the always-packed Dundas Association of Churches debate at Dundas Baptist Church on May 31. 

As with other elections, Green candidate Peter Ormond handed out strawberry plants. (Samantha Craggs/CBC)

Questions Tuesday revolved around issues such as health care, hydro rates and affordable housing, the latter drawing applause and nods from the audience.

Ormond mentioned wanting to pave the way for tiny homes, secondary units and laneway housing, as well as moves to reduce land speculating.

"Most of what Peter said has been implemented," McMeekin said. He also cited his government's new inclusionary zoning rules dictating a certain percentage of new developments be affordable housing.

Shaw said the province needs more rules to prevent tenants from being displaced through "renovictions" in gentrified areas.

She ended the evening with an appeal to voters like the Altons.

"I, like you, respect Ted McMeekin," she said. "He's served for many, many years. But what we're looking at in Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas is potential government."

About the Author

Samantha Craggs

Reporter

Samantha Craggs is a CBC News reporter based in Hamilton, Ont. She has a particular interest in politics and social justice stories, and tweets live from Hamilton city hall. Follow her on Twitter at @SamCraggsCBC, or email her at samantha.craggs@cbc.ca

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