It’s time for change in Sault Ste Marie.
My name is Michele McCleave-Kennedy and I am a nominee for the New Democratic Party (NDP) in the upcoming provincial election on June 7th. We need to build a community that is resilient, has opportunity for our youth, and has economic diversity.
Why should you support my candidacy? I believe that the leadership skills I have developed as an advocate, community activist, and small business owner are what is needed to strengthen and build a great community and future together.
My family has been in this area since (1896) and my community activism and advocacy is strongly rooted in my family. My great grandmother took my grandmother as a young child to march in Toronto for women’s right to vote. My parents tease me that this is where activism came from.
When I was a young girl I wanted to play hockey but girls teams didn’t exist yet, so I lobbied the Human Rights Commission to allow girls to play. After many years of letters back and forth and hearings girls were allowed to play hockey on co-ed teams.
Upon my graduation from Algoma University I started to work with young students in the
daycare on Rankin and Garden River First Nations. It was then that my passion was ignited to ensure that young children, particularly those with special needs, were given the opportunity to realize their full potential, and I have actively worked on their behalf ever since.
I have been an active member of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation for the last ten years and have lobbied the government for changes to educational funding, health and safety Issues, and WSIB legislation.
As an injured worker I learned how to navigate the WSIB legislation, which eventually led to becoming President of the local Labour Council, and more recently Vice-President of the Ontario Federation of Labour.
My position as VP on the Ontario Federation of Labour allows me the opportunity to have a voice at a provincial table discussing issues pertinent to the North. In order for Northern Communities to be competitive, the government needs to address the cost of doing business in the North due to geographical challenges and globalization.
As the SSM Labour Council President, last year I had the opportunity to be part of the Community Adjustment Committee which looked at ways we can address the challenging issues facing our community, while also identifying opportunities that could bring diversity and vitality to our city.
Working with other community leaders, I listened carefully to the people of Sault Ste. Marie and was able to take their concerns particularly those regarding steel tariffs, to the round table with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau when he was recently in our community.
I have advocated for our community by writing and presenting submissions to the Finance Minister discussing the economic opportunities in Sault Ste. Marie. By securing funding to expand our Port, expand our highways and improve rail service for both commercial and tourist traffic Sault Ste Marie could become a transportation hub attracting new industry.
We have an incredibly creative community here, as activities such as the Fringe North festival demonstrates, and we need to provide the environment for their success. As a former small business owner, I know the challenges first hand of writing business proposals, hiring staff and meeting payrolls.
Our Labour Council and its affiliates participate in fundraisers and community projects that respond to all the people in our community, including those living in poverty through its partnerships with local shelters, food banks and the United Way.
As a member of the United Way Board I am committed to ending poverty and reducing its impact on our community members.
I have demonstrated this commitment by organizing and participating in Out of theCold, Tampon Tuesday, and Easter Seals events. My community activism began as a result of having personal experience with workplace injury and understanding the devastating impact of the loss of a regular pay cheque on families.
We need to work collectively to find a solution to the food security issues in Sault Ste. Marie. Why should this matter to all of us?
Our future depends on raising healthy children into healthy adults and having a healthy and diverse workforce, and our taxes need to pay for an adequate income for all.
The issues in northern Ontario are different than issues in the south, poverty, the economy, and health care are prominent issues in our community. Sault Ste. Marie needs leadership and advocacy at the provincial level for policy change that reflects the reality of Northern Ontario, and the realities of our community and its people. I want to be that leader.
I want to bring my skills, knowledge and experience to Queen’s Park to fight for the future we want and need in Sault Ste. Marie.