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Q&A with Progressive Conservative MPP candidate Fred Sherman

8 August 2011 One Comment

Fred Sherman

By Samuel Getachew

In the first of our series on African Canadian candidates in the coming Ontario election, Sway profiles Founding Partner of The SEM Group www.SEMgroup.ca Fred Sherman.

The newly elected Progressive Conservative MPP candidate in Ottawa Vanier might not be a household name yet, but he has had a distinguished career in public service for a very long time.

Congratulations Mr. Sherman on being a candidate in the upcoming provincial election. Why the Progressive Conservative Party?

The history books tell us that the PC Party has in fact been responsible for almost all major social advances in Ontario — the creation of the Ontario Hospital Insurance Program (OHIP), old age pensions, the first labour code, the first anti-discrimination and women’s rights legislation; and the vast expansion of hospitals, schools and highways.

Today’s PC Party has done an incredible job of engaging hard-working and hard-pressed folks in diverse communities across Ontario; including tens of thousands who told us in fifteen different languages through our on-line survey at www.haveyoursayontario.ca, that they are struggling to keep up and despite all they pay in tax, government just is not working for them any longer.

As a business person, a community steward, a husband and father of a 5-year old son, I know firsthand what they are talking about. Our PC plan to bring relief [changebook.ca] reflects their earnest concerns. It is a solid plan that offers folks the relief they so desperately need. It puts more money back into the pockets of hard-working families, guarantees services like health care and education, and cleans up government through accountability and innovation.

Tell us about your journey so far in the community that has propelled you to be a candidate for office?

Very early on, my mother, a teacher, and my father, an economist, reinforced within me the virtues of caring and community ethic. I am also guided by sage words from my paternal grandfather, also an educator, who admonished, “…if you’re going to do something, do your best… or don’t do it at all.” Those values yet drive my passion for community, whether through service on boards such as Leadership Ottawa, United Way Community Capacity-building, or via mass-media contributions as editor-in-chief of Planet Africa Magazine and Producer of Nexus Africa Radio.

But my fondest reflections are drawn from my time with children and youth, including coaching and mentoring young boys in the community in a local basketball league – imparting those values of integrity, respect and teamwork towards shared goals. For what it’s worth, it engendered two league championships in four years. That always brings a smile to my face.

Tell us about the riding of Ottawa Vanier. The riding has been described as Liberal heaven by almost everyone. What is the possibility of making it blue this time around?

Ottawa-Vanier is a diverse socio-economic-multicultural microcosm of Canada – a community I have called home for the past 25 years; and a place undergoing much change over that same period. The greater Ottawa area is home to over 40,000 people of African-Descent – the largest visible minority population – many of whom reside in Ottawa-Vanier.  In door-to-door conversations, they also tell me they work hard, play by the rules, support their community, and simply ask for their fair share of the Canadian ideal – access to meaningful jobs, opportunities and services.

You have often mentioned people like former MP Jean Augustine and Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as great public servants. What do these great women mean to you and why do you think the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario is the right route to take for important issues like equality for women.

It is no secret that I am proud of Dr. Jean Augustine, the first black woman ever elected to Federal Parliament, and former Minister of Multiculturalism and the Status of Women, for her invaluable contributions to Canadian society as a whole.  She and I share the belief that Canada is strengthened by the full participation of all of its citizens in every aspect of social, economic and political life. My Liberian heritage is burnished watching President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, the first elected female Head of State in Africa, lead the charge in ushering a new era of democracy building, opportunity and gender equality in Liberia, which bodes well for the greater West African sub-region. Over the years, the Ontario PC Party introduced and passed some of the most progressive labour and social legislation in Canadian history, including the provision of equal pay for women. .

What are some of the policies of the PC Party of Ontario that you believe would be beneficial for the African Canadian population of Ontario.

Statistics reveal that people of African descent remain systemically locked at the bottom of nearly all key socio-economic indicators – a chasm framed by issues of systemic poverty, single-parent pressures, youth disillusionment and general lack of opportunity.  High taxes, including skyrocketing hydro bills, yield an inordinate impact on, especially, fixed-income folks. An important piece, for me, is to ensure those voices are also represented at key decision-making tables. Some of our proposals are to provide immediate tax relief to hard working and pressed families, to reduce the barriers of the many foreign and qualified individuals, and make universities affordable to those that are under the age of 25 in our communities. Last but not least,  a PC government will understand that we need to help our neediest rebuild their lives, develop useful skills and get a full-time job. As such, we will allow Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support Program recipients who work part time to keep more of their benefits and ease their transition from welfare to a job

Any parting words?

The facts are clear. After decades of stagnation on important socio-economic issues, new and conscious collaborative approaches are needed to incite new momentum.  Having worked on the ground for so many years, I understand those systemic needs and challenges, and am passionate about being a part of the solution.  For me, it means expanding beyond the vicissitudes of confrontation which sometimes limits our real influence at the core policy-making tables. It means working to improve the lives of my core constituents in Ottawa-Vanier; and bringing the voice of a greater constituency to Queen’s Park – and deliver results through the 6th largest economy in North America.

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One Comment »

  • Thomas Levecque said:

    Please let me know who the PC candidate for Ottawa Centre . Yasser Naqvi is spouting a bunch of lies for the Libs and I want to help him get unelected .RSVP

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