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York-Simcoe acclaimed NDP candidate undaunted by challenges ahead

The York-Simcoe seat in the House of Commons was vacated in September when Conservative MP Peter Van Loan retired. It’s not yet know when or even if Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will call a byelection for the riding, but candidate said she and her team are ready

Workers’ rights activist Jessa McLean is not one to shy away from a fight.

That’s a good thing since the acclaimed federal New Democratic Party (NDP) candidate for York-Simcoe may need to clear an additional hurdle in the form of an early 2019 byelection even before setting her sights on next October’s general federal election.

The York-Simcoe seat in the House of Commons was vacated in September when Conservative MP Peter Van Loan retired. It’s not yet know when or even if Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will call a byelection for the riding, but McLean said she and her team are ready.

“I think our riding is due for change,” McLean said, who is an organizer with the York Region chapter of Fight for $15 and Fairness. “We’re tired of electing really similar representation over and over again, who have similar policies that seem out of touch with people’s lived realities, especially for those who are struggling. We’ve reached a point where we’re seeing what damaging policies and austerity measures are doing provincially. The NDP is the only option to stop that from happening federally.”

McLean, who graduated at the top of her class with a political science degree from York University, said her long-held interest in issues of oppression, labour rights and equality is the cornerstone of her work as an activist and organizer. Throwing her hat in the ring now is all part-and-parcel of everything she believes in, she added.

“I’ve always been a supporter of the NDP and they are the only party here in Canada that comes close to challenging the narrative that keeps people down,” she said.

When McLean comes knocking at your door, you can expect to hear about new ideas and bold initiatives that will help to change the conversations usually heard on the campaign trail, she said.

For instance, the NDP believes housing should be explicit human right.

“You can’t secure other human rights without shelter, you can’t properly vote, you can’t receive social assistance that you need, it’s very difficult,” McLean said. “And that’s also talking about homelessness, as well as those sheltered precariously.

“We’re really going to challenge the other candidates and their parties to answer to people living in poverty and living in precarious situations,” McLean said. “We’re talking about building massive amounts of social and co-op housing that’s federally funded, and hopefully other levels of government can step up their game. But, nationally we can do this.”

The NDP has not yet won either a provincial or federal seat in York-Simcoe, but McLean is undaunted.

“We know we are traditionally the underdogs, so that makes us more determined to work that much longer and that much harder,” she said. “And, I think we’ll surprise people, even if it takes a moment or two to digest what we have to say. We’ve tried other parties’ ways, corporate tax cuts to stimulate job growth does not work. We’ve tried their approach to climate change, and now we’re in a dangerous position. We’re really working against the clock and the environment is a particular concern here in York-Simcoe. Our plan is to build a completely renewable energy economy, which will resonate here.”

New Democratic Party of Canada Leader Jagmeet Singh, himself, will vie for a first-time seat in the House of Commons in an upcoming February byelection in the British Columbia riding of Burnaby South. Singh will run against candidates put forward by both the Liberals and Conservatives.

So far in York-Simcoe, candidate Scot Davidson is running under the Conservative banner and former federal Liberal Party of Canada candidate Shaun Tanaka is once again vying for that party’s nomination. The Green Party of Canada has not yet nominated a candidate.

McLean lives in Sutton with her husband and young son.

For more information on York-Simcoe candidate Jessa McLean and the NDP, call 1-888-881-4637 or email


Kim Champion

About the Author: Kim Champion

Kim Champion is a veteran journalist and editor who covers Newmarket and issues that impact York Region.
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