With the upcoming federal election, it is important to know exactly who you are voting for. Presented are profiles on local candidates in the upcoming federal election. Next week we will be presenting each candidates’ appeal to the youth. More on that in our October 12th edition of The Brock Press.
Rick Dykstra: Conservative Party of Canada
Rick Dykstra served on St. Catharines City Council from 1991 to 1997 where he represented the St Patrick’s ward. Following this, Dykstra ran for mayor of St. Catharines in 1997, where he was defeated by Liberal Candidate Tim Rigby. Dykstra then segued into provincial politics where he worked for the Ontario provincial government from 1998 to 2002, eventually being elected to the House of Commons in 2006. In 2008 Dykstra was appointed Minister as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration.
Originally from the Netherlands, Dykstra’s parents emigrated to Canada in 1951, settling in Montreal first, then Halifax a year later. Dykstra would go on to receive his Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Brock University, as well as a Master’s Certificate in Project Management from York University.
During his time as a St Catharines councillor, Dykstra promoted lower gas taxes to slow cross-border shopping which was greatly affecting Ontario and Canada at the time. As well as promoting various tax reforms, Dykstra served on the Standing Committee of Finance for most of his time as a councillor where he commonly promoted decreasing municipal spending.
Under the Provincial Government, serving under Mike Harris, Dykstra served in two Ministries and in the Office of the Premier. He additionally worked at a Management Board as a policy advisor, served as chief staff to the Minister of Community and Social Services John Baird, and was also the director of caucus and public relations.
As a Member of Parliament, Dykstra helped introduce a private member’s bill which aimed to eliminate the “faint-hope clause” as well as another bill which aimed to end granting double credit for time served in custody prior to a sentencing. In 2008, Dykstra introduced the motion to have the Finance Committee study the abolishment of the penny.
While Dykstra has served in politics for many years, he has faced criticism in the last few years with a federal Ethics Commissioner in 2010 ruling, “Mr. Dykstra personally solicited funds from individuals with whom he had official dealings shortly before and after the fund-raising event”.
* Upon request of Rick Dykstra’s campaign office, this profile has been edited to remove comments recently reported by Buzzfeed and The Canadian Press.
Chris Bittle: Liberal Party of Canada
Chris Bittle was born and raised in Niagara Falls, Ontario and moved to St Catharines in 2005. Bittle currently serves as a civil litigator with Lancaster, Brooks and Welch LLP, where he specializes in resolving commercial disputes, real estate litigation, defamation, as well as tenant-landlord conflicts.
Bittle received his Honours Bachelor of Arts from Queen’s University in Kingston, as well as Bachelor of Laws from the University of Windsor. He is currently a board member for the Lincoln County Law Association as well as a Niagara College instructor in the Department of Continuing Education. Bittle additionally is a TA at Brock University.
When it comes to his platform, Bittle aims to bring his hard work-ethic to the political realm with a personal goal to combat unemployment and income inequality.
He currently serves as the Chair of Quest Community Health Centre Board of Directors, a regional-based non-profit organization committed to providing quality health care and social services to those who live in St Catharines.
Bittle’s time working with Quest has made health care one of his primary concerns as he is a strong advocate for sustainable healthcare. Additionally, Bittle is a strong supporter of Courts in the Classroom, a group that aims to educate youth about the justice system.
Susan Erskine-Fournier: New Democratic Party
Susan Erskine-Fournier was born and raised in St Catharines and is a community leader who aims to bring the NDP’s platforms and the community’s concerns to Parliament.
Erskine-Fournier graduated from Denis Morris High School in 1978’ and proceeded to get her RP Level One Certificate, Behavioural Modification/Social Services from Mount Royal College as well as a BA from McMaster University in Labour Studies.
For the past five years, Susan served as a Labour Program & Services Coordinator for St Catharines district’s United Way, helping to create links and collaborations between the labour market and non-profit organizations throughout the region.
Additionally, Susan brings to the table 30 years of experience from General Motors, where she helped educate human rights trainers. As an active member of her union, Erskine-Fournier petitioned solutions to unemployment, poverty and substandard housing.
As well as working for GM for 30 years, she also served on the federal EI Board of Referees and is currently an executive member of Niagara Regional Labour Council.
Jim Fannon: Green Party of Canada
Jim Fannon is a leader within St Catharines as well as a Niagara based REALTOR and radio talk show host.
Fannon first got involved in politics in 1992, when he ran for the Green Party of Canada in Niagara Centre in 1993. Since then, he has run for many different political positions including Mayor of St. Catharines in 2014.
Currently, Fannon believes that the green Party of Canada offers practical solutions to the issues we face in St Catharine’s today as well as those that will affect us in the immediate future.
Jim is an advocate for electoral reform, considering it to be the most important election issue facing Canadians. He believes strongly in the merits of proportional representation.
As well as serving in politics, Fannon volunteers much of his time to various boards, provincial executives, charity and church groups and community events throughout the year.
During the 2000’s, Fannon founded Nature’s Hemp, a healthy food company that promotes the benefits of eating hemp, aiming to inspire people to live more meaningful, healthy, and productive lives.
Saleh Waziruddin: Communist Party of Canada
In Saleh Wazirdudin’s own words “we need someone in parliament to represent most of us who have been conscripted into poverty and unemployment.” He explains “we used to have good jobs in Niagara. Companies don’t invest when the economy is down, so instead of tax breaks for corporations that won’t hire we need to use mass political action to keep jobs here and fund the public services we need.”
Saleh was born in Montreal to parents from India and Pakistan and has lived in the Niagara Region since 2006. During this time, Waziruddin also served as a peace and civil rights activist in the U.S. for Canvassing Strategists LSG Strategies: Voting is Power, where he implemented strategies that succeeded in registering over 20,000 voters. Additionally, Waziruddin received a degree in Chemical Engineering and Public Policy and Management from Carnegie Mellon University.
Currently, Wazirdudin works at a call centre and is actively involved in the peace and Cuba solidarity movement, as well as having two years’ experience working in municipal government as the Director of Public Works and Code Enforcement in Wilkinsburgh Borough, Pennsylvania.