Kelsey Schmitz is the NDP candidate for Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry

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The New Democratic Party of Canada has found their candidate for the upcoming federal election in Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry.

Kelsey Schmitz says she decided to run for the NDP because she believes the party aims to create more a caring and supportive society.

“We really need to be taking better care of each other as a society,” explained Schmitz.

“I really think that I am the person that I am today because of folks in our community … I owe to everyone who helped me get where I am today by being a voice that can share their issues by listening and taking care.”

Schmitz was born in Cornwall and grew up Newington and Ingleside, before leaving the area as a young woman to go to Ottawa for university and then to pursue her career as a teacher. She recently moved back to the riding after working as a director of teacher education in Nunavik and earned her doctorate in education.

Now she and now works for Students on Ice, which is an educational program based in Gatineau that takes students on expeditions to the article to learn about climate change, oceans literacy and Inuit traditional knowledge.

Having grown up in, left, and then returned to the region, Schmitz says she can help get more local young people to choose to stay or attract the ones who left to return.

“If we work together to look at what growth could look like in our region and ensuring that people, like myself, who had to leave for professional development and grow in their careers can return to our region, we can offer more opportunities to allow young people to stay and help develop their communities,” she said.

Schmitz believes that “sustainable social development” is the primary issue facing the riding, which is something that manifests itself in different ways.

“It looks at economic development in the job sector, access to education, and ensuring we have higher-paying jobs in the region. I also think access to affordable housing is also a major issue; making sure people have safe and proper housing as well,” she said. “I think the NDP has a great plan in place with its Green New Deal, which includes affordable housing and bringing in green jobs. I am very excited to see what that would look like in our region.”

Undoubtedly, Schmitz will have an uphill battle ahead of her to become the next MP of a riding that has only ever elected Conservatives and Liberals, and where the NDP has consistently placed a distant third. But the centre-left parties are seeing an opening with the departure of the popular Guy Lauzon.

Schmitz says she plans to reach out to beyond the NDP’s traditional voters by appealing to their sense of community and their weariness of “divisive politics.”

“I really think our region and our communities are places where neighbours take care of each other,” she said. “I’ve always seen great examples of that, and my whole message is about taking care and making sure people feel listened to and supported. People are really looking for that.”

The NDP will be holding their official nomination meeting on Aug. 25. But Schmitz’s nomination means that the only party left in Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry who hasn’t put forward a candidate for the next election is the Liberals.

Liberal riding association president Claude Poirier has told the Standard-Freeholder they have found a potential candidate but are still in the process of having that person vetted by the party. The official announcement was initially expected on Monday or Tuesday.

ahale@postmedia.com

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