Michael J. Lotter, People’s Party of Canada candidate for the riding of York-Simcoe, comes to the 2021 federal election with extensive and varied experience: as an immigrant, a worker in the retail sector, importer, small business owner, student, and political candidate.
Lotter, who emigrated from South Africa with his entire family, came to Canada in 1997. “We ended up in Sudbury,” he said, where he took a diploma course in Public Relations at Cambrian College.
He moved to Bradford in 2004, and initially worked in retail, then as an importer for a number of Canadian companies. He switched to construction and the home renovation sector in 2014.
2019 was a big year for Lotter. He not only started his own home reno business, he joined the new People’s Party of Canada, founded by leader Maxime Bernier. Lotter won the party nomination for York-Simcoe, running a campaign based on open dialogue on issues that included Immigration, big banks, Canadian values, and restoration of the economy.
Lotter received 875 ballots, or 1.63 percent of the vote.
After the election, he continued to live in Bradford, raising his two children and focusing on his business, which was just beginning to expand and be successful.
Then COVID-19 shut things down.
“I had almost a full slate of contracts for 2020,” he noted, “but when COVID hit, nobody wanted tradespeople to come into the house.”
Once again, Lotter decided “to reinvent myself,” heading back to school to study Software Engineering. And once again, he decided to run as the candidate for the People’s Party of Canada (PPC) in York-Simcoe.
Asked what drew him to the party and leader Maxime Bernier, he said, “The aspect of personal responsibility. I’m the one that controls my personal life – that’s something that Maxime Bernier and some of the other candidates talk about. And that’s who I am.”
Lotter has been campaigning door to door, as much as possible. The number one issue he’s hearing at the door and by email is the COVID-19 pandemic, and the “confusing information” reaching the public from various levels of government.
“A lot of people are upset that they are being mandated to take a vaccine, and now, to have a vaccine passport,” Lotter said, framing the issue in terms of personal choice and freedom.
“I don’t think you give up your views… just to fit into a society,” he said, adding that the vaccine issue is “what I think people are focused on more than anything else. That’s the big one.”
Other issues include rising inflation, that is eroding savings and the buying power of the dollar.
“The inflation last month came out at 3.7 percent,” he noted. Many people “ate up a lot of savings” during the pandemic, and now find themselves unable to recoup their losses, as prices continue to rise.
And “hand-in-hand” with rising inflation is the question of affordable housing, he said.
“A lot of people can’t afford a house, can’t afford to save up for a down-payment,” Lotter noted. “The explosion in the real estate market has put home ownership out of reach. People can’t afford a mortgage.”
Even those earning $120K to $130K, who would have qualified just a year or two ago, are now finding themselves priced out of the market.
“It’s out of reach.”
Locally, a key issue is the 400-404 connecting link limited access highway, or Bradford Bypass. “I think it is something that is necessary,” said Lotter, acknowledging, “There have been issues, but it is something that needs to happen.”
As for environmental concerns raised by some groups, he suggested that the new road would reduce traffic congestion and prevent the kind of traffic jams that regularly occur on local highways, with bumper-to-bumper vehicles idling for long periods of time. Eliminating that could actually cut emissions and provide overall environmental benefits, he said.
Lotter acknowledged that the PPC is a long way from being able to contemplate forming a government, but he hoped that voters will explore what he and his party have to offer.
If elected, he said, “My first role is to represent York-Simcoe. My goal is not to tell the constituents about the PPC. The constituents of this riding will tell me what they want to see happen, and then I as an MP will make that happen, to the best of my ability.”
Election day is Sept.20.