Ethel LaValley gives her nomination speech (Photo submitted)
Ethel LaValley, Whitney resident and NDP candidate for Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke, says she is not afraid about going up against John Yakabuski MPP in the upcoming election. In an interview with the Current, she referenced her experience in public life and said from a personal point of view she has nothing against the incumbent. But LaValley explained why she believes Andrea Horwath is the leader that residents of Renfrew County and all Ontarians need right now.
LaValley grew up in Whitney and is a member of the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan. After high school in Bancroft, she worked in Toronto and then with the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) in Algonquin Park where she became involved in the labour movement for the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU). As an elected municipal official (three times Reeve in the Township of Airy and then Mayor of South Algonquin after amalgamation), LaValley made a name for herself in local politics. She served as Vice-President of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario. At the same time she progressed through Ontario’s labour movement becoming Secretary-Treasurer of the Ontario Federation of Labour and was the first aboriginal Vice-President of the Canadian Labour Congress.
When talking to the Current, LaValley was forthright about her beliefs. She started with Hydro One, saying,
It’s one of the hot topics that has been going on in Ontario ever since Wynne started privatizing Ontario Hydro. It’s a very big mess unfortunately that has got to be taken care of – not down the road, but immediately. I was in Toronto for a bit working with my union OPSEU on the fight back against the privatization of Hydro so this is certainly not new for me. But it’s not only a union issue; it’s an issue for all the citizens of Ontario.
She did not mince words about public services, either.
For Renfrew County, it’s the whole issue of education, dental care and our poor senior citizens – the people that we should be taking good care of. I miss my mom and dad dearly but I would not want them to be in some of those [seniors] facilities. It’s pretty scary.
In LaValley’s opinion, Horwath has got a great strategy.
It’s not a dream; it’s a plan. It’s the only real, concrete plan that I can see that’s coming out for Ontario.
At the local level, LaValley has firsthand experience of how the province downloaded costs to municipalities, and cites policing as an example. As for her campaign strategy, she said,
I think we have to give the voters of Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke a change for the better. And we have to believe that people will vote for the person that they think will do the best job for them and/or their families and/or their senior parents and/or their children going to school. It’s a democratic society.
But I say to the people of Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke, you have an opportunity to make some change. And I say to them that Andrea Horwath is the best person to do a change for the better – not only for this riding but for Ontario. So I’m putting my faith in the electorate – and may the best person win.