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Why I Want to Replace Olivia Chow in Trinity-Spadina

03/20/2014 05:21 EDT | Updated 05/20/2014 05:59 EDT

My name is Joe Cressy and I'm running for the NDP nomination to replace Olivia Chow as the MP for Trinity-Spadina. I'm running because I believe we need to stand-up and champion progressive issues in downtown Toronto.

Rob Ford and Stephen Harper may not agree, but in Trinity-Spadina, we know that our community represents the very best of Canada. We live in a great community, in a great city, in a great country.

But we can, and must, do better.

I love downtown Toronto with all its diversity and density. I love our parks and unique neighbourhoods. I love cycling and walking. Heck, I even like the sound streetcars make as they screech to a halt on Bathurst Street near my house.

I was born and raised downtown and my wife Nina and I live and work here today. My family taught me to care deeply and to be guided by two principles: to care deeply and to strive for social justice and progressive change.

In my work and volunteer life I've tried to do just that.

I got started as an 18-year-old, protesting the war in Iraq and my activism and belief in a better world hasn't wavered since.

I've worked on human rights issues throughout Africa, on literacy programs in Northern Ontario First Nations communities, and on environmental issues across Canada.

And for the last four years I've worked with the Stephen Lewis Foundation to support grassroots women's organizations in Africa.

I was once escorted out of Parliament for calling on Stephen Harper to take action on climate change. Now I'm running to get back in.

But above everything else, I'm a proud New Democrat. I joined the NDP 12 years ago to support Jack Layton's leadership campaign, to join him on his project to build a better country. That project has been a major part of my life ever since.

For decades, in fact for my generation's entire life - we've had consecutive Liberal and Conservative governments play a trick on all of us. They have tried to tell us that the problem is the size of the deficit, and that the solution is to cut jobs and services. Or the problem is high taxes, and that the solution is to lower taxes. But, it's not true; Conservative and Liberal solutions don't work and they don't address the real issues.

The real issues facing Canadians are income inequality and the growing gap between the rich and the poor; climate change and the accelerating climate crisis; and the increasing challenges experienced by Canadian cities.

It's time to stand up for a different vision, and we can start by electing an MP who is going to champion a progressive cities agenda.

In Canada, that's just common sense. Eighty percent of Canadians now live and receive their services in urban centres. Cities are where people live, work, and play, and it's time - far past time - for Federal support.

Just look at the facts:

Fact - Canada is the only OECD country without national funding to get Canadians moving again.

Fact - Canada is the only G8 country without a national housing strategy.

Fact - Canada has an infrastructure deficit of more than $123 billion.

Don't take my word for it. Cities from Calgary to Vancouver to Toronto are calling on the Federal Government to take a leadership position on each of these issues.

Now, the federal Liberal Party likes to talk a good game about cities. But they've had their chance and their lousy record speaks for itself. New leader, same old talk.

So, let me be very clear. I believe we owe it to the residents of Trinity-Spadina to elect a New Democrat who will wake up every single day and fight for them. We owe it to residents across Toronto to elect a representative who will champion a progressive cities agenda. And we owe it to Olivia Chow to hold this seat and carry on her legacy of principled, effective, and tireless representation.

This is about more than just winning a seat; this is about standing up for downtown and winning as progressives.

With Tom Mulcair leading our Party, we will win and bring real positive change to the people of downtown Toronto.

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