Akbar toes the party line in a drive to win back the Milton riding

By Ryan O’Dowd:  Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

August 31st, 2021



Milton Conservative candidate, Nadeem Akbar, has been an ardent supporter of party leader Erin O’Toole since the leadership race and stands with him on most issues.

Milton covers parts of rural Burlington. In Akbar’s interview with the Gazette he discusses why the Conservatives are the best party to tackle cost of living concerns and he rebukes opposition claims O’Toole can’t unite the party, while praising his leadership on addressing Islamophobia.

The candidate speaks about squaring O’Toole’s anti-conversion therapy and pro-choice stances with potential dissenters in the party. Akbar is also asked about COVID-19 conspiracy theorists that fueled disruptive protests at a Trudeau event in Bolton.

Lisa Raitt, the Milton PC candidate who lost to Liberal Adam van Koeverden in the 2019 election was thought to be a natural as the candidate for the 2021 election.

She was on the Constituency Board and at one point was the Deputy Prime Minister for the Conservative Party and and on her feet frequently in the House of Commons.

Still, that wasn’t enough to save her from being booted off the executive board of her local riding association – an act that Toronto Sun columnist Mark Bonokoski described as a “coup.”

But Canadians should really see the events that took place as a sign of hope for renewed health in the grassroots, where new blood – here, in the form of Nadeem Akbar, who the riding membership nominated in December to carry the Conservative banner in the  federal election – outmaneuvered the old guard. What happened was the complete opposite of a coup: It was Canadian democracy in action.

Akbar signed up more than 200 new riding members and organized the membership to elect his chosen slate of candidates at the recent annual general meeting; Ms. Raitt was among the 10 directors replaced.

No slouch politically.

Akbar said the Conservatives are the only party who have put forward a comprehensive plan for Canadians going forward. Among the criticisms leveled at the lagging Liberal party is that they have failed to release a full platform, now over two weeks into a brief campaign.

“From day one, we’re the only party who put a plan forward. Right after this pandemic, we are going to secure the country by securing jobs, securing accountability, securing mental health, and securing the economy.

“There is a whole plan that we are going to be working with for Canadians. We have touched on almost everything which is needed, to emerge from the pandemic. And the message I’ve been getting from people is that our message, being communicated clearly from the leader, is resonating so well. They are looking at us and they can see we are here to help them, their response at the door has been tremendous. People see that going forward we are going to secure their future. The whole plan held together addresses every single aspect of life,” said Akbar.

O’Toole has said Canada is facing a housing crisis. The cost of living is at the forefront of voter concerns, Akbar is hearing these concerns at the thousands of doors he’s knocked on. Akbar outlined why the Conservative party is the best choice to provide more affordable housing for Canadians in terms of building homes, and a foreign buyers ban(a firmer stance on foreign buyers contrasted to the Liberal platform which proposes a foreign buyers tax). He touched on other areas where the Conservatives aim to alleviate the cost of living such as public transit and mortgage affordability.

“People are saying the same things at the door, it will be difficult for the coming generation and currently, any new person entering the market, it is so hard for them to buy a house. We have a plan, we’re going to build millions of houses, we want to build 1 million houses in the next three years. We will keep foreign investors from buying homes who are not planning to move to Canada,” said Akbar.

In a recent interview with the Gazette Milton Liberal incumbent, Adam van Koeverden, relayed concerns that O’Toole’s moderate sensibilities were out of step with his party. Akbar, who has supported O’Toole as the Conservative’s best choice since the leadership race, begs to differ pointing to O’Toole’s strengths as a leader both as he knows the leader personally, and the Conservatives ballooning support in national polls.

“I can tell you one thing, I met Erin many times, from day one what I see from Erin is that he is a man of his words, he is a family man who is very committed to serving Canadians. We need a leader like Erin O’Toole, especially after this big pandemic, we need a leader who will take this country forward, to help Canadians secure the future. And I have confidence in Erin. I can tell you I’ve knocked on thousands of doors and I haven’t heard any of (van Koeverden’s) concerns. The message we are delivering to Canadians is being received so well, that’s why more and more support is coming towards Erin to be the next Prime Minister of Canada,” said Akbar.

Liberal candidate Van Koeverden specifically said O’Toole’s record on voting pro-choice wasn’t indicative of the party’s stance due to dissent among his MPs, and he said Conservatives who speak about mental health that don’t vote for banning conversion therapy are “hypocrites.” Akbar was asked several times where he as a candidate stood on abortion and on conversion therapy, the candidate reiterated that O’Toole is the right leader for the party and that he is not here to impose his views on the party but declined to provide his position on either issue.

“I can tell you one thing that you know, Erin is the kind of leader who always talks to his party, he talks about all these issues with the party and does not have any kind of restriction on any of those issues so that people can talk about it openly. We can see the support coming forward. He is the leader that is going to unite this party, we are going in that direction, people are coming and joining us. Within our party, we have people from all walks of life who have their own ideologies. But at the end of the day they are together for one thing, that in this very situation, Erin O’Toole is going to be the leader who secures the future of this country, said Akbar.

Nadeen Akbar speaking to the Muslim community.

Akbar was asked where he specifically stood on abortion and conversion therapy and said:

“As I said this is exactly the leader we’re all looking forward to working with. He is so open and such a leader that he does not impose his thoughts onto anyone else. I am very comfortable being behind this leader, and I will work 100 percent with the leader,” said Akbar.

When asked if being 100 percent behind the leader meant he was pro-choice and was in favour of banning conversion therapy Akbar said:

“Again as I said, I agree 200% with the leader he is the only leader who can take us forward to help every single Canadian. I am also willing to serve people, I am willing to serve anybody regardless of their colour, regardless of their background. We are here to help, we are not here to divide people,” said Akbar.

O’Toole recently condemned any Conservatives who may have taken part in harassing Justin Trudeau in Bolton and said they were not welcome back on his team. Akbar was asked if he was prepared to say there is no place in the Conservative Party for disinformation coming from ani-vax, anti-mask, and, COVID conspiracy theorists, Akbar said he has been vaccinated and he personally supports vaccinations but will not force anyone to make a decision.

“What I can tell you is my wife is a doctor and obviously, she’s helping many families and many kids. I’ve got my vaccination. And we are more of a people who need to make sure that we help each other to tackle the situation, especially the pandemic, we have to work together, help each other and if anybody needs help we guide them. But I’m not here to force someone into getting something or not getting something. I’m here to help. And all my family and everybody around me, they’re all fully vaccinated, as is our campaign. We had a very clear instruction we should make sure we’re all vaccinated,” said Akbar.

In June Akbar vocalized support for O’Toole to call for an emergency National Action summit on Islamophobia. The motion received unanimous support and occurred in late July.

“When Erin O’Toole became a leader, on his very first day he said this is bigger than party. Everybody should support this whether you’re praying on Friday or on Saturday or praying on Sunday, whether you’re not praying. Every community, everybody especially, as you know I’m Muslim, especially the Muslim community should be together in this. Erin was the leader who called for the summit.

Milton Mayor Gord Krantz stands wit Nadeen Akbar just the way he stood with the Liberal candidate

“Unfortunately, the Liberals in the past haven’t given an opportunity to the opposition party, especially so we can talk more about this but definitely a very good call,” said Akbar.

Nadeem Akbar celebrated his office opening on Saturday days after the 26th anniversary of his immigration to Canada. Akbar said his immigration was full of hardships as all are but that Canada is the land of opportunity and the best country in the world. Akbar has been involved in community politics and prides himself on being a community leader. Professionally, he has worked as a corporate IT consultant for over 17 years. Akbar has given back to his community through donations to the local hospital and volunteering with the Conservative party he now represents.


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1 comment to Akbar toes the party line in a drive to win back the Milton riding

  • Adam van Koeverden must be shaking in his boots with a candidate (Nadeem Akbar) of this calibre for the Milton/Burlington community. Yes he is new to politics but so was Adam van Koeverden. We have been disappointed in Adam’s performance particularly as he took over from a former Deputy Prime Minister and must have had a lot of good people working for him to pull that off for a first time candidate regardless of his name being known by many of us who take an interest in the Olympic Sports where his name became well known. It appears to us that those good people may well have transferred their affections after less than a full term of Trudeau leadership with a new Milton MP in place. Milton Mayor does not favour one or the other he treats them both the same as clearly he is not interested in offending either – wise Mayor indeed. Thanks for this article and the news that there is a fresh face and fresh hope for a great community person representing Milton/Burlington.