2019 Federal Election

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chrisstephen

- by Chris Stephen

My name is Chris Stephen and I am extremely proud to be a candidate for the NDP. I was born and raised in Chesley Ontario, and have lived there, in the heart of Grey-Bruce, my entire life. I attended both Chesley Public and Chesley District High School. The days those schools closed were extremely sad days.

At a young age I started working part time for the Town of Chesley and also for Tri-County Cattle Company. At Tri-County, I worked in the sales barns working with cattle, cleaning barns, and in the summers, ‘doing hay’. This job was the definition of hard work, as it was very physical, dirt under your nails work. I met a lot of farmers and truckers, who taught me a lot about their work. I am proud to live in a primarily agricultural area.

I just received my 25 Years of Service award from the Municipality of Arran-Elderslie in the fall of 2018. It is here that I first became a labour activist. I have been the Unit Vice-President for CUPE 255, representing the workers of Arran-Elderslie for the past six years.

Through this activism I started to gain an interest in politics. Many CUPE conferences include political candidates and Members of Parliament, and I realized that they stand and fight for workers and families. This also gave me the courage to get off the bench and get into the game.

In my early twenties, my passion for the sport of hockey led me to saying yes when a friend asked me to help him coach. Now in my 40’s, I can look back on years of coaching Novice to Bantam, boys and girls, Local league and WOAA Rep. This year I was honoured to receive the AEMHA Coach of the Year award. To me, that is the highest honour I could receive. My passion for coaching doesn’t end there. I have also coached minor soccer, elementary school basketball and even women’s slow pitch.

What I enjoy about coaching is the ability to develop my leadership skills. One of the key aspects of being a leader is understanding that you are really there to serve the needs of others. You have to lead by example, be willing to help others, and try to raise the level of everyone involved. While I’m coaching, I dedicate hours to designing practices with the end goal of helping the kids improve their skills over the course of the season.

The most important thing for me is not whether we win championships; it’s trying to make sure that I have given 100% to every player and given them every opportunity to improve their game. There is, however, nothing more beautiful than watching a team come together for a common goal and giving all they have for one another, in my opinion.

I tell the kids that the most important thing isn’t to play for the name on the back of our jerseys, it’s to play for the crest on the front. This is what I want - my team is Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound.

I know one of the most common questions that I am going to face during this campaign is going to be “Why do you want to run?”. My answer is “Why not?”. I will be told “you’re not a politician”, “are you really the right person for the job?”. I am not going to be your typical politician. In fact, I’m not a politician at all.

I am a labourer and I feel that for far too long, we have had typical, traditional politicians. Many of these people have not experienced the same things labourers have, come home with dirt under their fingernails, hurt by the day’s labour, been injured on the job, been laid off or fired, been in fear of not receiving a pay cheque, nor suffered from the loss of friends, lost members of our workplace family, or had to worry about sickness and then have to make ends meet. Well, my friends, I want to change all that.

I want to inspire labourers, farmers, everyone to get off the bench and get into the game. It is time for more people like me and you to step up, become candidates and take action.


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