By Mike Anderson

York-Simcoe voters will see two new faces on the ballot when they cast their vote on September 20.

While Conservative Scot Davidson, who won the riding in 2019 with 24,918 votes (46.3%), is considered the front-runner, the Liberals and the NDP are hoping new candidates can make a breakthrough in the traditionally blue riding. 

Daniella Johnson, a former community activist and management consultant in the non-profit sector, is the Liberal candidate. 

Johnson, who lives in Guelph, recently sought the Liberal nomination for Brampton Centre, losing to Shafqat Ali.

While Johnson lacks a strong ground game in York-Simcoe – there is a noticeable lack of Liberal signs – she is confident that she can improve on the 14,407 votes (26.8%) Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux, who is now running in Simcoe North, received in 2019.

“I’m committed to making sure York-Simcoe has the best representation possible. And with a Liberal government, having a Liberal member of parliament will enable us to get things done.” 

Johnson, who is expecting her first child, says affordability, especially childcare and housing, are top of mind when she’s been door-knocking. 

“We have a lot of young families who have moved into the riding. And they’re looking at the high cost of childcare. We need to make sure it’s more affordable,” she said.

She also believes the recent spike in property values has made a first home unattainable for many. 

“I walk through the community in York-Simcoe, and I think to myself, my goodness, these homes are so expensive. How are we going to get people who are renting to afford homes? We need to plan to make sure that housing is more affordable.” 

Daniella Johnson

Like Johnson, the NDP candidate Benjamin Jenkins, a social activist and Ph.D. candidate, doesn’t live in the riding.

The Barrie resident hopes to build on Jessa Mclean’s surprising 7,620 votes in 2019, which doubled the NDP’s share of the vote from 7 to 14 per cent.

Jenkins says climate change and phosphorus pollution in Lake Simcoe are key issues for many voters.

And he’s counting on capturing most of the 4,650 votes the Green Party candidate garnered in the last election, as the Green’s are not running a candidate this time around. 

“For those who would normally vote Green, there’s a lot to love in the NDP platform,” Jenkins said.

“If you care about the environment, if you care about better representative democracy, if you care about public transportation, if you care about housing that doesn’t see more farmland paved over, the NDP is the only party who’s offering that in this riding.”

Benjamin Jenkins

Meanwhile, Davidson is confident that his record speaks for itself.

“I try to be the MP for everyone. I’ve worked hard in the last two years to bring awareness to the issues,” he said. 

“I’m the only MP to stand in hip waders to bring awareness to Lake Simcoe. And we’ve recommitted to the Lake Simcoe Clean-up Fund again in our platform.” 

Davidson not only lobbied the feds on numerous local issues but also advocated for new programs, including a deemed trust to protect fresh produce farmers in Bradford from wholesalers going bankrupt during the pandemic.

But, according to Davidson, the Liberals wouldn’t support it. 

He also introduced C-204, a private members bill to ban the export of plastic waste to foreign countries for final disposal, which would help protect the world’s oceans. But, while it received third reading in the Senate, the election call killed it. 

“It was one hour away. It would have been passed, but Trudeau pulled the plug,” he said. 

“I’ve worked hard in this riding, through East Gwillimbury, Georgina, Bradford West Gwillimbury, and I hope the voters see that and put their trust in me again to represent them.” 

Scot Davidson

The riding’s fourth candidate, Bradford resident Michael Lotter is running again for the People’s Party of Canada (PPC); the fringe party received 867 votes (1.6%) in 2019.

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