As she hits the campaign trail for a second time to turn Aurora-Oak Ridges-Richmond Hill red, Liberal candidate Leah Taylor Roy says she hopes Canadians vote “for” something rather than “against.”
A mom of six with a blended family, Ms. Taylor Roy, who comes into the race with a background in finance and entrepreneurship, says she believed the Liberal party was the best party to form government when she first threw her hat into the ring in 2019 and she still believes it today.
“A lot of the basic issues [that were important] the first time I ran are still here,” she says and, in some cases, have only been magnified by the global pandemic.
Among these issues, she says, are senior care, child care and housing.
“Senior care is even more important now with what has happened during COVID,” she says. “The emphasis on providing more support for in-home care so seniors can stay at home is really important. We have seen how women have really been burdened in a way by the care of both seniors and children during COVID. Women in the workforce and ensuring women have the supports they need has always been a big issue for me. Now we have a National Child Care Plan and that is huge for allowing both parents to go out and work; our productivity will increase and our workplace participation will increase as a result of this. There will be short-term benefits and I think in the long term we will see our workforce even better educated with early childhood education.”
Ms. Taylor Roy rejects the idea presented by the Conservative Party of providing a child care credit for families as, in her view, child care prices can hit $2,000 a month in York Region, available spaces are a hot commodity, and a credit won’t help create supply.
It is, in her view, all part of “having Canadians’ backs.”
Running to be the riding’s next Member of Parliament, Ms. Taylor Roy wants to be part of Canada’s recovery and rebuilding process post-pandemic. “Building Back Better” has long been a mantra of the Liberal party since the start of COVID-19 and, to her, that means “helping the businesses and the sectors in our economy that have been hard-hit to thrive” and find new ways of doing business.
“There are so many opportunities going forward to look at how we do things and do them differently,” she says. “I think that will allow us also to look at that pivot where we’re really focused on the environment. That is a huge priority. The amount of emphasis that is going to be put on training and young people to work in green industry, create jobs there, give homeowners money so they can retrofit their homes and make it more energy efficient – that is not only going to decrease [greenhouse gas emissions] but also create jobs for young people.”
Another top priority for her is addressing the issue of affordability, particularly through the National Housing Strategy, looking at ways to not only boost supply across the board, but put particular focus on affordable rental housing and seniors’ housing.
Many of these initiatives are already rolling and, to that end, Ms. Taylor Roy says she believes Justin Trudeau is the right leader to carry the country forward towards recovery.
“Look at where we are today,” she says. “We have one of the best records in terms of vaccines in arms,” she says. “Look at the facts, look at the progress we’ve made: Canadians were taken care of. We provided immediate assistance to people who needed It, unlike other countries, and unlike what the opposition wanted to do. Look at what our leader did, look at what our party did, where we are today, and not vote against somebody because of one thing… but look at the overall picture.”
But there is still much to do to improve the “overall picture” moving forward and that includes work on the environment and improving the lives of racialized and otherwise marginalized communities.
“I am very aware of all the different voices and communities and how Canada benefits from them and how we all have to be included not just in the decision-making, but in decisions and in thinking about decisions,” she says, specifically referencing Indigenous peoples, the Black community, and recent examples of Islamophobia, antisemitism, and hate targeted at the Asian community. “We really need to work in allyship and recognize there are serious issues we have to resolve.
“My top priority will be representing our community – that is the job of a Member of Parliament. It is an honour and a privilege to serve and that is our job. I am a community person. I was raised with the values of hard work, integrity, and giving back to your community and being a part of your community. I have worked very hard to reach out to every corner of the riding and talk to people and really listen to them. ‘Forward for everyone’ is the slogan and that is going to take everyone cooperating and collaborating.”
Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran