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Q&A with Candidate Dionne Coley

19 August 2011 No Comments

By Samuel Getachew

At only 29 years old, Dionne Coley is a dream candidate by any standard. Young, talented, educated and ambitious, she was recently nominated as a candidate for the NDP in Etobioke – Lakeshore. Sway caught up with the lawyer and law professor turned aspiring politician recently.

SG: Dionne – Congratulations on your nomination – Why the NDP?

Coley: I am honored to stand shoulder to shoulder with men and women across Etobicoke-Lakeshore, the GTA and Ontario promoting change that puts people first. I believe that pursuing partnerships among individuals, community agencies and government to strengthen the tapestry of our interconnectivity is a MUST. The NDP has positively stood on the right side of history in standing for social justice. It is my pleasure to stand with the NDP to ensure working families and individuals for that matter are heard and have a voice at Queens Park.

You have an impressive background in law and public service. Please share with us your experience?

I am a licensed attorney in the State of New York and I anticipate being called to the Ontario Bar this September. I have experience in legal advocacy from working at a district attorney’s office, a criminal law firm and the appellate defender where I argued my first case in the appellate division. The best part of my law school years was spent mentoring youth in a diversion program from the criminal justice system.

My campaign run in the last municipal elections (2010) for Toronto District School Board Trustee displayed my true passion for education and the community. I am a professor of law and legal studies and currently in the process of writing two books geared towards helping students study the law. It is an absolute joy to mentor my students beyond the classroom. I also have experience in missions work as a humanitarian in South Africa. I continue to further my passion for missions as I am completing a Masters in Divinity in Bible College.

As a member of the Ontario Bar, you will soon join an exclusive club that lacks diversity as much as the lack of diversity that still exists in elected office in Ontario. Why do you think elected office and, for that matter, the legal profession are a great way to contribute to the betterment of our province and ultimately country?

Both elected office and working within a legal setting are privileges which require a consistently grounded view of one’s self. The time has come for change in which we can hear the voices of everyday Ontarians speaking, as opposed to career politicians. I enter this election knowing well in advance that it (the election) is NOT about me. It is about being a Voice For Change. It is about being a voice that everyday Ontarians can identify with. Whether it is serving constituents or clients within a legal setting, it is forever my objective to stay actively listening and actively engaged.

With a true love for litigation, I am eager to lead and argue the case for making life affordable for Ontarians. Is life more affordable for you whether you live in Toronto or Thunder Bay? The answer is No. How does the current government justify taxing hydro and home heating? There’s just no excuse. I want to work with businesses and individuals to get Ontario where it needs to be. We get there by rewarding job creators, putting a stop to the corporate tax giveaways and lowering small business taxes.

You are part of  the NDP team that is led by a woman, Andrea Horwath.  If she is successful, she will become the first woman Premier of Ontario. That would be rare. Is it important to take that in to consideration or are we, as a society, way passed that era?

Electing Andrea Horwath as the next premier of Ontario is the route to take to ensure a Tim Hudak government isn’t going to saddle the most vulnerable Ontarians with policies that are designed to falter. We have to remember the cuts that took place under a Conservative Harris government—a government that Mr. Hudak was a part of.

Who can forget Ontario’s more recent history with eight years of Liberal rule under Dalton McGuinty? Mr. McGuinty and the Liberal team campaign mirroring the NDP and govern like the Conservatives. Again, you’ve got to ask yourself—has life gotten any better for you over this time period? It probably hasn’t with the taxes you must now hand over to the government so you can keep the lights on and heat your home. Anyone choosing to vote for the Andrea Horwath NDP team should do so on the merit of Andrea, their local MPP Candidate, and the policies of the Party. It is a great day all across the world when women get involved in political life. We should definitely celebrate the accomplishments made by Andrea regardless of gender. However, it brings pleasure to me to see that women are taking on the responsibility of government and blazing a trail for young women across the world to discover.

What are some of your signature ideas you would hope to bring to the House if you indeed became an MPP?

During my 2010 campaign run for Toronto District School Board Trustee, I developed a platform that emphasized leadership, community empowerment, life skill approaches and mentorship which are the hallmark of my political journey.

As MPP, I plan to promote these educational initiatives as well as an equal access to educational resources approach with “no child being left behind”. The NDP is the Party that promotes this initiative and recognizes that there is a disparity in the allocation of these resources—a reality based on factors as trivial as the area you may happen to live in.

Any Parting Words?

The NDP represents Change that Puts People First. The simple truth is that our government has let us down – and continues to let us down. It’s time to use the frustration we are feeling as a motivating tool to make things happen for Ontarians in terms of affordability, education, health care and I plead, in terms of our government recognizing our worth as the hard-working tax payer instead of continuously leaving us behind in an agenda that serves “some” of us.

We presently have two levels of misguided right of centre ideological government – the people of Ontario need a New Democratic government to counter balance a Conservative agenda of one-size-fits all governance. We can do this, but ONLY as a collective movement! Join me in this Evolution of Change! I need you and look forward to making it happen.

My email is [email protected], my facebook is “Dionne Coley Vote NDP“ and our website is ELNDP.com.

I look forward to Seeing You on the Campaign Trail!

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