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Meet the Candidates: Leona Alleslev, Conservative (Aurora-Oak Ridges-Richmond Hill)

·5 min read

In her third Federal election campaign, Conservative candidate Leona Alleslev has noticed something different on the campaign trail: a wave of emotion from many residents as soon as they open the door.

“They are feeling fatigue,” says Ms. Alleslev. “They are feeling worried. There are still a lot of people who are struggling with the uncertainty, with the challenges that have resulted from COVID [and voting] is one more thing for them to try and deal with, manage, and think about.”

When she’s face to face with these voters, the incumbent candidate says she encourages everyone to realize “this is the opportunity to shape the future direction of the nation,” a future she would very much like to be a part of as Aurora-Oak Ridges-Richmond Hill’s next Member of Parliament.

“The reason I got into politics in the first place was because I am actually quite concerned with the future of the country and being able to protect the things we have and shape the future for the world as it changes, and our place in it,” she says. “That is even more true today than it was six or seven years ago when I started. If the constituents [of the riding] are still willing to place their trust in me, then I believe I still have a contribution that I can make to the future that citizens and the country hope that we can achieve.”

As she enters the home stretch of the 2021 Federal Election campaign, one which culminates in Election Day on Monday, she says she is proud to take the Conservative Party’s platform to the electorate. It is a platform she says she has had the opportunity to influence and one plank she says she is particularly proud of is addressing climate change.

“I think it hits exactly the right balance between makings sure that Canada can be contributing to addressing urgently climate change and doing our part as global citizens, but also encouraging other countries to meet some of the highest environmental standards that Canada has, and to lead the way on that,” she says. “I am proud of our mental health and long-term care [strategies]; I think COVID has shown that different provinces have different standards of care and we collectively decided as Canadians that we wanted a minimum universal standard for health care so that it didn’t matter where you lived in the country you were able to access the same level of care. To now talk about mental health supports and protections, as well as standards for seniors in long-term care homes into the Canada Health Act, I think that is really important.”

Physical and mental health is a key theme Ms. Alleslev says she has been hearing from residents, along with issues of precarious employment. A conversation needs to be had, she says, on how to increase the number of quality jobs, not simply the quantity, particularly addressing contract workers or those who may not have any hours to work in a given week.

“Zero hours in a week for me doesn’t mean that you have a job but we have to work to be able to communicate that and to do more so that people have not only employment but quality employment,” she says.

Quality manufacturing is also a top-of-mind concern for Ms. Alleslev who comes into the race as a retired member of the Royal Canadian Air Force, and with a background in procurement in both the public and private sectors.

“Canadians are very proud of being able to punch above our weight,” she says. “For the pandemic to show that we’re not actually able to look after ourselves as we thought [in areas of health, critical goods manufacturing, food supply and information systems] has had a significant impact on our psyche and I have heard it at the doors. To be able to look at some critical things, investing in domestic manufacturing and that, in turn, offering more quality of jobs, and in turn addressing the Consumer Price Index and affordability of life, that is really resonating at the doors as well.”

A topic which has been a passion for her in previous campaigns has been comprehensive tax reform and that is still close to her heart as she works to make sure Aurora’s south riding stays a Conservative blue. If she is re-elected to the House of Commons, this will be an area of focus as part of Erin O’Toole’s team.

“Leaders are important, teams are important, ideas are important and the ability to get things done is also important,” says Ms. Alleslev on why Conservative leader O’Toole is the right person to lead Canada in a new parliament. “We’re lucky that we have a leader who can lead, a team of competent, wise, experienced candidates and Members of Parliament to support that, an incredibly well-thought-out, detailed, balanced, costed plan and a commitment and a track record of actually getting things done as opposed to merely talking about it and then not being able to.”

As she looks back on the first few weeks of the election campaign, Ms. Alleslev says the Conservative party has been branded by other parties “in a way that is not an accurate reflection of the party.” They are a party, she says, that is a reflection of the Canadian population – “inclusive” and “celebrating the diversity of all the communities in our country and what they have brought to us in the past and what contributions they will make in the future.”

“Your voice does matter and please get out,” she says. “Our country is worth it and our future is worth it.”

Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran

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