Lise Vaugeois Secures NDP Nomination for Thunder Bay-Superior North
By: Dawson Mihichuk, Contributor
Lakehead University contract professor, Lise Vaugeois, secured the Ontario NDP nomination for Thunder Bay-Superior North in a nomination meeting that saw local party members vote on representation for the party in the next provincial election. Vaugeois contested the nomination in 2014, but lost to Councillor Andrew Foulds, who would go on to lose to incumbent, Michael Gravelle.
The nomination race featured Vaugeois and Alain Lauzon, a French separate school board trustee, originally from Kapuskasing. The event included Thunder Bay-Atikokan NDP nominee, John Rafferty, as keynote speaker. Party members began voting at about 7 p.m., after being shown the empty ballot boxes. “A lot of problems the Conservatives have with their nominations stem from not being shown the empty boxes,” Rafferty quipped. The votes were counted with the help of Jim Reilly, an employee of the Ontario NDP’s provincial office. Vaugeois was announced the winner, though NDP procedure is to not announce the vote count.
Vaugeois spoke to The Argus and expressed concern about the current state of Ontario. “I think we’re in a very serious time, I think political orthodoxy needs to be challenged… I have seen the steady erosion of public assets into private hands and that has taken place through consistently lowing the rate of corporate taxation.”
Vaugeois stated that she believes that there has been consistent underfunding of public institutions and that this is particularly visible in places like universities and colleges. “Where you have more and more faculty as precarious workers, [that] affects the students, as faculty doesn’t have the time to commit to them,” she said, “when I went to university for my first degree in the seventies, I had no money – it was all student loans and grants, but I was able to pay it off in a couple of years, and I did not have a particularly good job to pay it off, but it wasn’t that much.”
Vaugeois is strongly opposed to privatization of Ontario’s public infrastructure. She believes that when businesses have to make a profit, they have to lower costs, either through raising the price, lowering the quality of service, or by cutting workers and wages. She believes that the province should play a greater role in supporting municipal governments, stating, “in Thunder Bay… council is expected to pick up all kinds of responsibilities that they don’t have the money for.”
The issues that are affecting Ontario most right now, according to Vaugeois, are primarily the privatization of Hydro One, lack of universal pharmacare, and the current situation of Ontario colleges and universities which she describes as “dire, students are paying for it and you see loss of services at universities with cutbacks to library hours and library staff cut back enormously, as far as I can see in the faculty of education.” She is upset with what she sees as underfunding to Ontario post-secondary institutions and believes that international students suffer in particular, with high international tuition fees. “Having lots of foreign students is fantastic for the intellectual and cultural life of the university or college, but the university is using international students to bankroll,” she says.
Vaugeois decided to run for the NDP because she views it as the party of the average working Ontarian. She believes that ordinary Ontarians need to band together to put pressure on the government. “There’s enormous pressure from very powerful interests — if we don’t have counter pressure to that then we’re very restricted in what we can do… That participation and engagement is absolutely crucial.” In her opinion, the NDP has the best policies for “understanding the burden placed on people, and that those burdens need to be relieved and it is fair to be removing those burdens.”
Vaugeois is one of three major-party candidates that will be running in the next provincial election, among others including Liberal incumbent, Michael Gravelle and Progressive Conservative candidate, Derek Parks. Vaugeois believes that those wanting to unseat Gravelle and Kathleen Wynne’s Liberal Party should look to the NDP instead of the Conservatives, stating, “Progressive Conservatives and the Liberals have been a part of this movement to underfund public institutions and to transfer them into private hands, so what we see is policies that have led to enormous stresses to people, and then we see the kind of band aids that are offered to try and repair some of the damage without any real effort to stop the damage from happening and to reverse the policies that have created the damage,” before adding, “ – and we won’t get anything different from Patrick Brown.”
The Ontario provincial election is scheduled to occur on June 7th 2018.