Dupuis running a virtual NDP campaign in Oakville North Burlington

By Ryan O’Dowd: Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

September 1st, 2021



The first thing Oakville/North Burlington NDP candidate, Lenaee Dupuis, told the Gazette in our interview was that this is an unnecessary election and that people are apathetic about it.

Lenaee Dupuis

Despite that, Dupuis spoke at length about running a virtual campaign while the community deals with a fourth wave of COVID; the need for respect in politics after NDP signs in her district were vandalized; immediately achievable climate change action, and the NDP’s efforts to create a more equitable society in areas of healthcare, education, senior care, and housing.

Due to COVID-19 safety concerns, Dupuis is not running a traditional campaign, participating mostly  in virtual events. Dupuis said she has heard from the public they are unhappy with candidates knocking on their doors, and criticized the candidates participating in traditional campaigning for putting volunteers and constituents at risk.

“This is an unnecessary election so I think because of that there is a bit of apathy around it, when I’m talking to constituents a lot of them ask ‘why are we having this election?’ We’re going into a fourth wave of the pandemic and my immune system is compromised so I want to be cognizant that not everyone wants to speak publicly. I’ve heard some complaints in my neighborhood that some of my opponents are actually walking the neighborhood and knocking on doors, and people don’t like it so I think the fact that the election has been called unnecessarily is probably one of the biggest things to keep in mind.

In a virtual campaign – this is about all you get.

“I feel that knocking on doors puts our volunteers at risk. It also puts our constituents at risk and I know if somebody were to knock on my door right now I wouldn’t answer it. I feel that it’s not necessarily the safest thing. I think people do not have the appetite for it right now and we are in a fourth wave and numbers are increasing. We chose not to have a campaign office. We are doing a lot of things virtually so for instance we’re doing some meet and greets virtually, we’re also doing some virtual meet and greets in parks as well, but it is with COVID protocols, masks on, we have hand sanitizer, we’re six to 10 feet apart from each other. So we had a really good one last weekend where we had probably about 25 people there, and people asking really good questions as well,” said Dupuis.

Dupuis was unconcerned her decision to abstain from traditional campaign canvassing put her at a disadvantage, the candidate focused on the positivity being generated from the events that are happening. She also thinks voters appreciate the responsibility of the decision. Despite the positivity Dupuis has felt around her campaign, two NDP campaign signs were vandalized, located on an Oakville supporter’s residential property, the words “NO COMMIES” spray-painted over them. Dupuis said the candidates have put their hands up for big jobs and spoke of the importance of running a respectful campaign.

“You know, my biggest thing is, we have all put our hands up for a really big job. So whether it be the incumbent like Pam Damoff, whether it be somebody relatively new like Bruno Sousa, in the Green Party I think all of us should respect one another, no matter what our political views are, no matter how people feel about signs. We’ve put our names in the hat, which those people that are vandalizing haven’t done. And you know, respect is how I live my life. I want people to respect me but I want to give the same respect back. And that’s really how I think it should all be because I respect all the people I’m running against very much,” said Dupuis.

Few houses like this are being built – the word affordable wasn’t used to describe them.

Dupuis addressed cost of living concerns with a focus on expanded health coverage and affordable housing. Dupuis championed universal Medicare and universal Pharmacare, and suggests more accessible health coverage in all areas will be balanced fiscally by reducing avoidable hospital and emergency visits. The NDP plan for affordable housing includes a 20% foreign buyers tax on the sale of homes to individuals who are not Canadian citizens and waiving GST/HST on the construction of new affordable rental units to expedite growth.

“We’re talking about Pharmacare for all and Medicare for all. So, in addition to Pharmacare to have dental in there, because I’m very aware of the linkage between poor dental care and heart disease, diabetes can be affected, several different things so that dental care is also under there. A lot of the time what is happening is we have Medicare, in the sense of people can go to the hospital, they can go to the emergency room, they get the prescription, but they can’t afford to fill the prescription. So, even, you know, if we had the prescriptions filled the additional cost that is put out for hospital visits and emergency visits will be reduced and everything will balance out fiscally.

“In the time that the Liberals have been in government, you can see the trajectory of housing prices going up over $300,000. You know I have a 15-year-old son and I am scared for him and his opportunity for having affordable housing in the future. That’s owning a house but rental prices are not attainable either so affordable housing is a priority. The NDP has the everyday person in mind, not, corporate, not the big polluters, not the big money makers, it’s the everyday person so the result is that the everyday person, benefits, not just the home builders, not just the big, big manufacturing companies, it’s the everyday person who will get the results of the NDP party,” said Dupuis.

Nursing homes like this experienced a death rate the could have been prevented were they in the hands of better managers.

Jagmeet Singh suggested Trudeau allowing for-profit long-term care homes to continue to cut corners for their financial bottom line resulted in Canadians living and working in the homes being hit hardest by the pandemic. The NDP are proposing to take profit out of long-term care homes altogether, Dupuis explains.

“So, along with affordable housing, pension plans, etc. We feel that seniors are one of the populations that need to get a little extra help wherever they can. You know, CPP hasn’t gone up over the years so we want to make life more affordable for seniors, so improving CPP, working towards getting better plans like PharmaCare dental care a lot of seniors don’t have dental care, because it’s not part of their benefits once they’ve retired. So those types of things will help to make them healthier and live longer, as well, long term care homes, you know, de-privatizing and making them more universal with stronger employed people upping the minimum wage so that we get better a better standard of people working in the homes as well,” said Dupuis.

It is going to take a lot more than bold statements to save this planet.

Fighting climate change is a passion for Dupuis, who has a background in environmental waste management from school. Dupuis thinks there are many changes Canada could immediately make in addressing climate change.

“There are simple wins like banning single-use plastics that’s one of our forefronts and I think it’s a quick win and low-hanging fruit. I think it’s something we could very easily do as a society. Trying to electrify along the transit systems that go through Oakville/North Burlington. It is a commuter area so encouraging more commuting, utilizing the GO train more, making it electrified. Additional pollination spots encourage more bumblebees. There are so many things that we could do that are quick wins. Making it mandatory for recyclable products for restaurants so instead of Styrofoam containers you have to use something that’s more biodegradable. There are little wins that we can get but then there are big ones like fossil fuels so, not giving subsidies to the big polluters, instead of making them pay for the impacts that they’re having.

“And also wreck retrofitting so when we’re when we’re building big apartment buildings or building more areas, or, you know, taking older apartments and making them more affordable for living, you know, retrofitting those buildings and having the big builders, doing things in a more green process, having them LEED-certified, etc.,” said Dupuis.

The NDP platform discusses working toward free tuition for Canadians, a plan that would require provincial government cooperation, but in the interim, Dupuis is advocating for an immediate stop to interest on federal student loans and elimination of $20,000 of initial debt per student.

Wearing the NDP colours – Dupuis mingles at a time when mingling was possible.

“One of the things I always like to say is that education is an equalizer in society. So no matter what socioeconomic background that you have been born into you can rise from that level. Canada, for instance, is a place where if you get an education, you can move outside of the background that you’re born into. And so the fact that our cost is so outrageous, and not everybody can pay needs to be fixed. I came from a home where my father had his grade nine education, but I have a degree, I have two degrees and a couple of post-secondary diplomas, and that was because I fought hard to get them. My parents also helped me, but they didn’t help all the way. So one of the things that we have announced as the NDP, is that we will eliminate any interest on loans and any tuition. We’ve also said that we would grandfather I believe it’s $20,000 so that you know we will kind of get rid of the initial $20,000 that you spend in debt. But we have to get elected for those things to be followed through,” said Dupuis.

Lenaee Dupuis is a mother, wife, and small business owner who has lived in Burlington for over 15 years. She is a human resources professional and has been for over 20 years. Dupuis has a biology degree and diploma in Environmental Waste Management.

Dupuis was the NDP candidate for Burlington in the 2019 federal election

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