Getting to know your candidates

Isabel Cisterna, NDP

Originally born in Chile, prior to entering politics, Cisterna made her living as an actor, while also working in jobs like manufacturing and waitressing. After coming to Canada in 1991 as an 18-year-old, she founded Neruda productions in 2001, a non-profit arts and culture organization in Waterloo, of which she still serves as artistic director. Cisterna cites her past work with marginalized communities as well as her own experience as a new Canadians as her motivation for getting into politics.

Why should students vote?|

“Students are the most important voters. Students
can make or break an election. Students can make positive
change, if they get out of the apathy that they’ve been
in for so long. Many students I’ve talked to are incredibly
savvy when it comes to the issue, but they still won’t
vote. Also, if you look at it, how many of those thoughts of
change happen at the university level. The Che Guevaras
of the world, where did they start? At a pub in a university.
Students can achieve incredible things.”

J.D. McGuire, Green Party

According to McGuire, his political career started at the age of 14, when he used to — voluntarily — watch the Ontario Legislature’s “Question Period” with his father in his native Goderich, Ont. After moving to K-W to take computer science at Conestoga College, McGuire worked a number of temporary jobs before landing at Research In Motion as an IT professional. McGuire decided to join this year’s election after “not wanting to sit on the sidelines” and be told what to care about.

Why should students vote?

“A lot of their education depends on the provincial
government’s attitude and policies. No other level has as
much direct control over students’ lives as the provincial
government …. Students, or anyone really, just need to
find something that they really care about.”

Eric Davis, Liberal

Since his family left British Columbia when he was two-years-old, Davis has spent nearly his entire life in K-W. After growing up in the region, he received a degree in history and political science from Wilfrid Laurier University before attending law school at the University of Ottawa. A municipal and planning law lawyer by trade, Davis became interested in politics when he was high school during the 1995 referendum, which nearly saw Quebec seceded from Canada. He was then a senator at WLU as well as chair of the WLUSU board, and decided to enter this year’s provincial election because of a particular closeness he felt to the issues dealt with by the provincial government.

Why should students vote?

“Students are directly affected by the policy of the provincial government especially. If they’re going through a post-secondary institution, whether it’s university or college, how their school is funded, the tuition grants they may receive, a great number of things impact their education and it’s important for them to really get engaged in the political process.”

Elizabth Witmer (incumbent), Progressive Conservative

Currently in her 21st year as the MPP for Kitchener-Waterloo, Witmer is no stranger to politics. After emigrating from Holland at the age of four, Witmer grew up Exeter, Ontario and then went to the University of Western Ontario before becoming a secondary school teacher in Waterloo. Her start in politics came in 1980 as the trustee for the Waterloo Board of Education, a post she held for 10 years before becoming MPP. She has also served as Ontario’s minster of health, minister of environment and minster of education, as well as deputy premier.

Why should students vote?

“I’ve always had a keen interest in making it possible for students to achieve their full potential and there’s every reason for [students] to vote in this election, because it’s their future that’s at stake. When one premier in eight years doubles your debt, there’s cause for alarm. I want to make sure that every student has the opportunity to get a job, to increase their skills, to make themselves more employable and that they be given every opportunity to reach their full potential.”

Peter Davis, Independent

Born and raised in Waterloo, Davis holds an economics degree from Carleton University and a master’s in international affairs from the Graduate Institute of International Affairs and Development Studies in Geneva, Switzerland. After finishing his studies in Geneva, Davis didn’t feel drawn to the world of international relations and returned to K-W to get involved in local politics. Working at local restaurant Ennio’s, Davis is involved with a number of local organizations, including the Waterloo economic development committee.

Why should students vote?

“I think it’s a very small sacrifice. It’s important to have a balance in your life between social stuff and community stuff and I think there’s a personal reward in having that balance. It’s not that you should vote to change the world or for the good of all students, you should vote because it’s good for you.”

Melanie Motz, Freedom Party

Born and raised in Waterloo, Motz has previous political experience with the Fair Vote movement. She has been a manager at several businesses across Southern Ontario and comes from a family that has lived in the Waterloo area for over 150 years.

—Files from Freedom Party website, The Cord was unable to reach Motz before press time.

Jay Ouellette, Ontario Libertarian Party

—The Cord was unable to reach Ouellette before press time and no biographical information was available.

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