EDITOR’S NOTE: This story is one of a series on the candidates for the federal election in the ridings of Lambton-Kent-Middlesex and Sarnia-Lambton
In his work as a chef, Dylan McLay has travelled Canada and he says that’s given him a “good all-around vision” of what Canada is about.
The 30 year-old father of two is the New Democrats candidate in the Lambton-Kent-Middlesex riding for the federal election.
McLay grew up in Niagara-On-The-Lake and worked “around the world” as a chef. He came to Chatham-Kent nine years ago for a job, and “just never left.”
Currently, McLay is a commercial food equipment sales consultant.
This isn’t McLay’s first run at politics. He was a candidate in the 2018 municipal election running in the North Kent Ward. McLay polled last with just 130 votes. Unlike the other candidates in the municipal election, McLay did not file an expense report, making him ineligible to run in the next municipal election.
McLay was also at one time a member of the Conservative Party but was turned off by “the dog and pony show” of politics. He was frustrated, he says, because Lambton-Kent-Middlesex didn’t have a strong voice in Ottawa.
McLay concedes retiring Conservative MP Bev Shipley is a “phenomenal person” but says Lambton-Kent-Middlesex has been the home of backbenchers for years. “When was the last time the Conservative Party has done anything for this riding?”
So, McLay threw his lot in with the NDP and beat long-time NDP candidate Joe Hill in a nomination meeting with just 20 people in the room.
McLay says while that seems to make the NDP a long-shot in the riding which has been blue for four terms, he says the NDP has been gaining support over the last few elections. And he says the Wallaceburg area has been an NDP stronghold. “Wallaceburg generally goes orange as opposed to blue and red,” he says.
“Where in roads have to be made is Strathroy….where the concern there is with affordable housing.”
As he talks to residents of the riding which stretches from Lucan to Wallaceburg and down to Thamesville, McLay is seeing some common themes. “
“A lot of the issues have been the treatment of small business and the agriculture sector,” he says.
“Seniors and youth have seemed to be forgotten…gun control is a concern, rural transit has been a huge one – what can we do to make that better.
“And of course the environmental issues are huge issues,” says McLay.
“I believe we are at a point in our history that change is going to have to be made in a positive direction,” he says.
The NDP has promised a $15 billion fund to help homeowners retrofit their home. It’s also planning to cancel subsidies to big oil and gas. And he says the NDP will reduce emission levels by 38 per cent by the year 2030.
“Instead of sitting back and being an arm chair opinionated person I believe in being there to make changes,” he says taking a swipe at the Liberal’s environmental record.
“The Liberals say they are big on the environment and then go and build a pipeline. That’s very contradictory.”
But there is one Liberal policy the NDP is willing to look at – carbon pricing.
McLay says the NDP will look at the tax “to see what can be done to make it fair…so big polluters pay more.”
The NDP has also promised a national pharmacare program and free dental care for people whose income is under $70,000.
But aside from the policies of the party, McLay is hopeful people see him as the right candidate for the job.
“I have a sound business mind and that’s a good thing.
“My people skills are good. I have the ability to get things done and get to the heart of things. I don’t mind talking about the elephant in the room that people don’t want to talk about…that’s one of the things I’ve prided myself on.
“It is something this riding needs.”
McLay faces Jesse McCormick (L), Lianne Rood (C), Anthony Li (Green) Bria Atkins (PPC) and Rob Lalande (I) in the Oct. 21 vote.