Editor's note: BarrieToday is profiling federal candidates in the Barrie-Innisfil and Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte ridings. Today we feature Lisa-Marie Wilson, the Liberal candidate in Barrie-Innisfil. For more coverage of the upcoming federal election, visit our Canada Votes 2021 page.
Lisa-Marie Wilson doesn’t expect to run the same kind of campaign as she did during the last federal election campaign when she was also the Liberal candidate for Barrie-Innisfil. But since the onset of the pandemic nearly two years ago, nothing’s been normal anyway.
The probation and parole officer and public school board trustee underwent unexpected surgery Aug. 9 to remove her left kidney where a cancerous tumour was located. Just six days later, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau dropped the writ declaring a federal election for Sept. 20.
“The past one-and-and-half, two years a lot of people have faced adversity,” said Wilson, who is on a leave of absence from the Ontario Public Service through the campaign. “I’m not alone in having my own challenges.
“I wasn’t anticipating… that I would be facing my own health issues.”
But, she insists that more reliance on the virtual approach and less upon the face-to-face meetings won’t put her behind the 8-ball.
Wilson requires no further treatment, although she is in recovery mode. So she doesn’t expect to be banging on a lot of doors, at least in the early stages of the campaign. Instead, she will rely more on social media, phone calls and other alternative methods of getting her message out.
While some might see the timing of the election as bad, Wilson says the experience has given her more of a purpose and a goal to push the Liberal agenda.
“This is part of what this whole campaign is about, is for the Barrie and Innisfil residents to voice their concerns,” she said.
Wilson, 49, is a mom of two grown children who works in probation and parole. From that perspective, she said she’s experienced first-hand many of the major issues facing local residents.
She sees the battle with controlling and stopping the spread of COVID-19 as an ongoing concern. She also points to the economy, affordability and protection of seniors arising from the pandemic along with climate change as important issues.
Locally, she says the opioid crisis and affordable housing need attention.
Although there have been calls locally and nationally to legalize and regulate non-medical use of drugs to reduce the ever-growing number of fatal overdoses, Wilson didn’t share her opinion on legalization. Instead, she says there’s a need for supervised consumption sites (SCSs) and pointed to new federal funding for substance abuse and addictions proms.
“I have seen, first-hand, how this crisis impacts communities and families,” she said, referring to her background in probation and parole. “I know personally how tragic it is and how we really do need to find ways to support them.”
Housing, the lack of it and the need for more reasonably priced places for people to live is also in Wilson’s scope. She points to a dire need to increase the local housing supply.
“My role is going to continue to be an advocate and a voice for this crisis,” she said, pointing to the area’s continuing changing landscape.
Wilson said she’s not afraid to speak up and advocate for people, ask the uncomfortable questions and keep the government accountable, which she said is an extension of her work.
Wilson moved to the area in 1993 from Toronto and says she’s seen incredible changes in the intervening decades. In addition to the ongoing growth, the community has also become more diverse. Issues involving Black, Indigenous and LGBTQ+ are often now in the forefront and Wilson would like to see the discussions continue.
“For me that coincides with being a representative in Ottawa. I want to be able to voice these concerns,” said Wilson.