Hamilton·Hamilton Votes 2021

Riding profile: Hamilton Centre, a longtime NDP riding, has 7 candidates

It has the densest population — 100,103 in just 30 square kilometres — and the lowest household income of the five Hamilton ridings. And the NDP will do its best Monday to keep its longtime riding of Hamilton Centre.

Contenders include a podcast host, a financial planner, an artist and a line cook

Hamilton Centre candidates include, clockwise from top left, Margaret Bennett (Liberal), Matthew Green (NDP), Fabian Grenning (Conservative), Avra Caroline Weinstein (Green) and Nathalie Xian Yi Yan (Independent). (Photo Illustration)
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It has the densest population — 100,103 in just 30 square kilometres — and the lowest household income of the five Hamilton ridings. And the NDP will do its best Monday to keep its longtime riding of Hamilton Centre.

Incumbent NDPer Matthew Green, an outspoken member of Jagmeet Singh's caucus, is running for re-election on his message of a "just recovery" from the pandemic and reconciliation. Margaret Bennett, who worked this year to encourage new Canadian populations to get vaccinated for COVID-19, is running under the Liberal banner.

Fabian Grenning, a Stoney Creek accountant, is running for the Conservatives, artist Avra Caroline Weinstein represents the Green Party, Kevin Barber is with the People's Party of Canada and Nigel Cheriyan is the Communist Party candidate. 

(Elections Canada)

Nathalie Xian Yi Yan, who's been in the race for mayor, is running as an Independent.

As of 2015, Statistics Canada data shows, the riding had an average household income of $57,951.

Here's what the candidates say about how they'll do for the riding:

Margaret Bennett, Liberal

Liberal candidate Margaret Bennett says: 'My experience as a certified financial planner means that I know the priorities that families are having to set every day.' (Margaret Bennett campaign)

Occupation: National recruitment strategist and certified financial planner. 

Do you live in the riding? Yes! I am a proud resident of the Stinson neighbourhood!

What makes you qualified to represent the riding?

My experience as a certified financial planner means that I know the priorities that families are having to set every day about their goals personally and professionally. I know the delicate balance we all make between spending, saving, and looking out for our community whether through volunteering, donations, or outreach.

I am an active volunteer in my community and advocate for the lower city. I organized vaccine outreach in my neighbourhood on my own initiative after realizing there were gaps and misunderstandings. I shared my experience and feedback with other community groups in the lower city to be able to learn from our experiences.

I am bilingual in English and French and proud of Hamilton's status as a Welcoming Francophone Community as part of the government of Canada's action plan for official languages. 

What are three issues you'd like to address on Day 1?

Securing the $10-a-day child-care agreement with the province so families have options and the cost of child care no longer outsizes their salary, identifying locations for rapid affordable housing units to be built to address our housing crisis, and prioritizing policies that will help us reach the ambitious climate action goals.

How will you make housing more affordable for Hamiltonians struggling to pay the rent or get into the housing market?

The Liberals have a very comprehensive platform on housing. For those wanting to get into the housing market, the platform proposes: 

  • A new rent-to-own program.
  • Help cities accelerate housing constructions to build up, not out.
  • A new savings account for first-time home buyers.
  • An expanded shared-equity approach where the government will assist with your down payment.
  • Doubling the first time home buyers' tax credit.
  • Reducing the CMHC Insurance charge by 25 per cent.
  • An anti-flipping tax to discourage the sale of houses that were flipped and never lived in.
  • Banning the purchase of non-recreational residential property for the next two years.
  • Home buyer's bill of rights which will ban blind bidding and establish a legal right to a home inspection.

For those struggling to pay the rent, the platform offers:

  • Permanent increase to the National Housing Co-Investment fund to help affordable housing providers acquire land and building to build and preserve more units and extend the model of co-operative housing to new communities.
  • End for renovictions by deterring unfair rent increases that fall outside of a normal change in rent.
  • Require landlords to disclose on tax filing the rent they receive pre-and post-renovation to implement a proportional surtax if the increase in rent is excessive.
  • Stop excessive profits in the financialization of housing, such as large corporate owners of residential properties who are increasing rents, by reviewing the tax treatment that corporate owners receive, policies in place to curb excessive profits in this area while protecting small, independent landlords, reviewing down payment requirements for investment properties.

What will your party do to immediately address climate change?

We have already invested over $100 billion to fight climate change and build a clean economy for Canadians, including $53.6 billion for a green recovery. We are working to help move our economy to greener technology, such as the $400 Million loan to ArcelorMittal Dofasco to transform from coal-fired steel production to produce green steel, and of course the $1.7 billion investment in LRT as the first step to expanding Hamilton's transit network. 

In our new mandate we will deliver on all fiscal and policy measures outlined in our strengthened climate plan from December 2020, implement the recently passed Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act, and work with Canadians and the Net-Zero Advisory Body to identify ways to further accelerate climate action that will put us on trajectory to achieve net-zero emissions as soon as possible and no later than 2050.

We will ban single-use plastics by 2030.

I am most excited about the net-zero accelerator for Hamilton Centre. This will help us create clean jobs and secure Canada's clean industrial advantage. With Hamilton's proximity to car manufacturers — which all new vehicles will need to be zero emissions by 2035 and 50 per cent of new vehicles will need to be zero emissions by 2030 — I think we are ideally situated to be a hub for green technology and manufacturing for the automobile sector and the electric vehicles of the future. Our manufacturing space and skilled workforce, as well as our ability to attract people for the technology sector will make Hamilton an exciting place to bring in green jobs for the future and I will be advocating for Hamilton to get its share of those new green jobs.

Matthew Green, NDP

NDP candidate Matthew Green: 'As a former city councillor and your member of Parliament running for re-election, I know the challenges that many people in our community are facing, and I know the support and advocacy that needs to be done.' (Matthew Green campaign)

Occupation: Parliamentarian/Member of Parliament for Hamilton Centre.

Do you live in the riding? Yes, I'm a very "Proud to Be Ward 3" resident.

What makes you qualified to represent the riding?

As a former city councillor and your member of Parliament running for re-election, I know the challenges that many people in our community are facing, and I know the support and advocacy that needs to be done.

I have been a small business owner who found ways to give back to our community, and I have been an organizer working with many community and advocacy groups to improve our environment, reduce poverty, end predatory lending, and seek Indigenous reconciliation. I am proud to be born and raised in Hamilton and to represent our working-class values in Ottawa.

What are three issues you would like to address on Day 1?

Over the course of the campaign, we've talked to thousands of people, and I always ask them "if you were prime minister for a day, what would be the first thing you would do?" The response I hear most often is that people in our community are deeply concerned about housing affordability and homelessness. We must take immediate action to increase the supply of housing in Hamilton and across Canada, and we must take measures to help make rent more affordable.

People are also raising the need for a just recovery coming out of COVID – there needs to be real support for seniors and people living with disabilities, investment to open new child-care spaces, and new programs like pharmacare and dental care that would make life more affordable. Just as importantly, many people believe we need to take more action to address climate change and leave a cleaner, greener environment for their children and grandchildren. These are the priorities of our community and will be the priorities I'll fight for in Ottawa.

How will you make housing more affordable for Hamiltonians struggling to pay the rent or get into the housing market?

New Democrats have a plan to create at least 500,000 units of quality, affordable housing in the next 10 years, and we will invest to renovate or preserve 1.7 million units of existing housing.

We'll kickstart the construction of co-ops, social and non-profit housing by setting up dedicated fast-start funds to streamline the application process and give communities the assistance they need to get projects off the ground now — not years from now. We'll mobilize federal resources and lands for these projects, turning unused and under-used properties into vibrant new communities.

And we would implement a rent relief program of up to $5,000 annually for people that are struggling to afford rent in otherwise suitable housing. This money would go directly to renters, without landlords knowing who is receiving the subsidy.

What will your party do to immediately address climate change?

Building on Canada's new net-zero law, we will set an ambitious target of reducing our emissions by at least 50 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030. 

We commit to immediately eliminating fossil fuel subsidies and reinvesting these funds to help support workers transitioning into new sectors of the economy.

We need to change how Canadians get around, because improving transit and getting our transportation infrastructure right will create jobs, strengthen communities, and reduce our carbon footprint. We will support public transit by permanently doubling the Canada Community-Building Fund, and we will develop a public intercity bus program and support municipalities with operational funding.

We would invest in renewable energy systems so that Canada can produce net carbon-free electricity by 2030 and move to 100 per cent non-emitting electricity by 2040.

Fabian Grenning, Conservative

Conservative candidate Fabian Grenning: 'We will address the astronomical and soaring cost of renting a home by partnering with municipalities and the private sector to bring new rental units into the market.' (Fabian Grenning campaign)

Occupation: Accountant.

Do you live in the riding? No.

What makes you qualified to represent the riding?

I have owned an accounting firm in the Hamilton/Stoney Creek area for 21 years, and in that time, I have built strong working and personal relationships within the community and have come to deeply know the needs and challenges that exist for individuals and businesses in Hamilton Centre. I genuinely believe I would be a good, effective voice for them in Ottawa.

What are three issues you'd like to address on Day 1? 

The vaccine issue, the affordable housing crisis, and the creation of more jobs post-COVID.

How will you make housing more affordable for Hamiltonians struggling to pay the rent or get into the housing market? 

We will address the astronomical and soaring cost of renting a home by partnering with municipalities and the private sector to bring new rental units into the market. We will also review the extensive real estate portfolio held by the federal government — as the largest property owner in the country with over 37,000 buildings — and release at least 15 per cent for the development of new homes, increasing overall supply and ensuring sufficient infrastructure.

What will your party do to immediately address climate change? 

The climate crisis is pressing and one thing the party will seek to do immediately is to set up a low carbon savings account. This will incentivize Canadians to make greener lifestyle choices that reduce their emissions while also allowing them to decide what works best for them and their family. Our party recognizes that the most efficient way to reduce our emissions is to use pricing mechanisms, but not ones where the government pockets your money.

Avra Caroline Weinstein, Green

Green Party candidate Avra Caroline Weinstein: 'Housing is the buzz word of the 21st century and affordability is the biggest issue in what feels like the 20 seconds because of exponential potential incubating during the worldwide COVID hiatus.' (Avra Caroline Weinstein campaign)

Occupation: Retired therapist, artist.

Do you live in the riding? I live right in the heart of Hamilton Centre.

What makes you qualified to represent the riding?

I am a good neighbour and my neighbours have been incredible to me in times of need. I intend to continue to help where I can whenever I can. Every little gesture has the power to change lives. I believe very simply that we have everything we need to be able to pay our good fortunes forward to help people rise above systematized subsistence to become SYSTained and then like in a true circular economy return the favour in extraordinary feats and accomplishments and simply contributing!

What are three issues you'd like to address on Day 1?

1. Affordability from housing to homeless sanitation stations, to establishing stations for safety and security.

2. Decriminalize drugs and stop criminalizing addicts! Move addiction-related services to go under proactive health care (and away from criminal justice). We're not arresting people addicted to playing video games, why are we arresting the most affected just because they have to resort to criminality to support their need? Addiction is a natural propensity for comfort and fading away. Some more than others but we should stop penalizing our children and neighbours. What's the point? We just undermine any hope?

3. Jobs are plenty but employees are scarce. Have we noticed this? We have healthy functioning people waiting in food and disaster lines who just need a break to get on the rung of the proverbial ladder. But first they need roofs over their heads. How about building military-like barracks? In any event homeless people need protection and security and sanitation. Pretend its Woodstock! Let's stop scratching our heads. Start matching, training and sending folks down the slide of their prospective potential that awaits them down the line.

How will you make housing more affordable for Hamiltonians struggling to pay the rent or get into the housing market?

Housing is the buzz word of the 21st century and affordability is the biggest issue in what feels like the 20 seconds because of exponential potential incubating during the worldwide COVID hiatus.

I keep asking everyone to find out how many houses we built countrywide in 2019. I got the answer yesterday from my brother. I think it's a telling number at over 240,000. If we can do that for new builds, we can automatically allocate one unit per Airbnb or otherwise alternative renting to own, micro houses, coownership, double wides! With affordability being built right in to walkability. This is an emergency!

People do not need to be out on the street unnecessarily. We are plagued by mistaken beliefs that after all we lose out because others cannot eat. Maybe with honour and justice and respect and encouragement; maybe they could save your dying brother. Something to really consider.

What will your party do to immediately address climate change?

Climate change needs dramatic stimulation towards clean up and clean tech. Incubate and promote good Canadian innovation. Re calibrate subsidies so clean gets the lions share! This will put us on the map towards more self respect and sovereignty. 

Nathalie Xian Yi Yan, Independent

Independent candidate Nathalie Xian Yi Yan: 'I always like to contribute my knowledge and experience to make the community become better. I have been passionately canvassing since 2005.' (Nathalie Xian Yi Yan )

Occupation: Traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture.

Do you live in the riding?

I was living and working in the riding many years when I just arrived. I'm still downtown... living on the Mountain.

What makes you qualified to represent the riding?

I always like to contribute my knowledge and experience to make the community become better. I have been passionately canvassing since 2005. 

What are three issues you'd like to address on Day 1?

As always, how to [make] Canada's national economic recovery plan realistic and productive.

How will you make housing more affordable for Hamiltonians struggling to pay the rent or get into the housing market?

Federal legislature is absolutely responsible for national housing matters, including Hamiltonians who has been suffering. Without economic recovery, the issue can not be solved and that is why economics is on the top of agenda.

What will your party do to immediately address climate change?

Public education is a key, especially from a young age, to understand environmental protection and climate change issues and national policy for industry activities to provide proper guidelines along the way of economic development.

Kevin Barber, People's Party of Canada

Barber didn't send answers to the questions, but his bio on the PPC site says he works in the music industry, operating BOXO Studio from his Cumberland Avenue home and "producing a number of highly acclaimed thematic and causation albums." He also has a podcast called Barber Shop.

Nigel Cheriyan, Communist Party

Cheriyan also didn't send answers, but the bio on the Communist Party site says they are "a genderqueer student, line cook, and president of a housing co-op," and they "advocate for affordable, universal housing as a human right."

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