Chris Wilson, New Democratic Party candidate

David Shanahan: What is the position of the NDP as a party, and you as a candidate, on the proposed prison for Kemptville?

Chris Wilson: The position of the party is to immediately pause the prison project while we conduct some due diligence into the site selection process. The Conservative government under Doug Ford has released very few documents with regards to how the site was selected out of 50 different locations for the for the project. So, you know, normally when people are scared or don’t want to give people information, it’s normally because they’re trying to hide something. So I think there might be some flaw, or something in the site selection, that could lead to redoing the site selection process. So that’s what the NDP official stance is, that they’d like to pause the project, reinvestigate the site selection process, and if it was flawed, they’re going to redo it.

My stance is a little bit further than that. I believe the prison project should be cancelled entirely, mainly because it is a very, very poor investment of taxpayer resources, half a billion dollars of taxpayer resources and tens of millions of dollars annually going forward to house these prisoners. But in fact, incarceration causes more crime. So the Conservative government under Doug Ford, and with the support of Steve Clarke, is trying to spend half a billion dollars of taxpayer money to increase our costs annually on a programme that doesn’t even work. So I would instead spend that money on mental health and addiction services, which is proven investment to reduce crime and spend it investing in vulnerable communities and poorer communities to provide social services to prevent criminals from being criminals in the first place.

Full Interview …

David Shanahan: Do you think it’s still worth going through the consultation process if you feel that it shouldn’t even begin?

Chris Wilson: We don’t have all the information that the current government has with regards to the project. But we do feel heavily that there is a flaw with how the site was selected, and even the Ford government admits that the main reason they selected the site here in the heart of Kemptville was because they already owned the land. And to me, the land acquisition cost is very minimal when you look at a project of this significance, half a billion dollars invested just to build the prison, and that’s the budgeted amount. Projects like this very often go over budget. But when you look at the land acquisition costs and the savings of putting it right in the heart of our small town, it just doesn’t make sense. You could buy land somewhere else that’s not in the heart of a small community that doesn’t have the services.

David Shanahan: What do you see as the role of you as an MPP, specifically for this region?

Chris Wilson: I believe that mental health access is a huge challenge for every community and especially our community. So mental health access right now, children, even children who are suicidal and really on the verge of of doing something bad, they’re waiting upwards of a year to see a therapist, sometimes two years. And the NDP are committed in investing heavily into mental health care access in order to shorten that wait time down to 30 days.

Next would be education. The NDP is going to invest heavily into education. We’re going to build new schools and we’re also going to treat the staff appropriately: teachers, education assistants. We’re going to treat them in a way that makes their job more rewarding and that will entice more people to become teachers and education assistants in order to staff those schools. Because there’s no sense building new schools if you treat the teachers like garbage and they don’t enjoy their jobs, and you have a hard time recruiting and retaining staff for those new schools. 

And then the last thing for local investments: I believe heavily in healthy, inexpensive, food access across the riding. We’re known for a big agriculture community and growing healthy food is important, but also getting healthy food to the consumer in a cost effective way. 

So those are three areas that I think the NDP really excels in, and I’m really excited to start bringing solutions to the riding.

David Shanahan: As you’ve been campaigning across the riding and especially in this region, what are the issues that are coming up that you find important to the people, and are they different from what you would have expected,or what you thought of yourself?

Chris Wilson: No, they’re very similar. I mean, the one we’re talking about most often is the cost of housing. Actually, two of them I’d like to mention: one of them is rural Internet services. So the Ontario government is looking to spend hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer funds to provide subsidies to telecommunications providers to make Internet access more affordable in the rural areas. And not just affordable, but quality Internet, high speed Internet. So I think we really need someone with my background of business acumen as well as ethical and moral integrity, to make sure that these funds aren’t given out sort of willy nilly to the telecommunications companies without some firm contracts in place and their requirements to meet. And I don’t have the faith in our current leaders, especially under the Doug Ford government, to make sure that these contracts get handed out ethically and in a moral way. 

And number two is wasteful spending in our government, both the Liberals and the Conservatives alike. It’s a well-known fact that they give big government contracts to companies that support their causes. I mean, obviously, if you’re a company that’s getting government contracts, you’re going to want to support the party that’s more likely to give it to you. But still, I’m proposing, and this is just myself, not the NDP, but I’m going to advocate for new ways to control wasteful spending in our government, whether it’s a new ministry that’s designed entirely to control wasteful spending, control salary costs that get out of hand.

David Shanahan: You mentioned housing earlier. Obviously, it’s a big issue for people everywhere across the world even. Not just on access to housing, but access to affordable housing.

Chris Wilson: I want to say again, the gentleman that I’m up against, Mr. Clarke, he’s the Minister of Housing in our province. His main responsibility as the Minister of Housing in Ontario is to keep housing affordable for the people of Ontario. He hasn’t even tried. He hasn’t implemented one new piece of legislation to keep housing affordable. And if he doesn’t want to do the job, he should get out of the way and let me do the job for them. It’s a mad scramble in the rural areas to try to buy houses. And what we’re seeing is areas where normally the housing is pretty stable, they’re spiking up all of a sudden.

And that brings me to the next issue of rent controls. So if you can control rent increases through legislation that will make one tenant pay similar cost to the previous tenant when they’re moving into a new place, instead of landlords being able to double the rent overnight, that’ll go a long way to discourage these institutional and corporate investors from buying up all our homes in our province. Not only that, but it will control rents and make renting affordable for those who either don’t qualify for a mortgage, or just choose renting as a better option for them.

And to add to that, the supply is also a big concern. Housing is harder to build now. So what we need to do is end some exclusionary zoning in order to make it possible to build more what’s called “the missing middle housing model”. Right now, developers are really good at building single family homes, and they’re also really good at building high rises in the city centres. What they’re not so good at is building the duplexes, triplexes, and low rise apartment buildings with commercial units on the bottom. You can live and work in the same place, so you don’t have to pay the exorbitant amounts for gas to get to work. And it makes the housing more affordable for people to buy, as first time homebuyers, than these single family dwellings.

David Shanahan: As you know, candidates will make any kind of comment and promise during a campaign. What kind of promise or guarantee can you give them that, you know, you will stand by your promises? 

Chris Wilson: All I need to say is that I’ve lived a very, very, very difficult, challenging life in my personal life. I’ve also succeeded in the business world to a high degree. And I’ve never once sacrificed my reputation of honesty, integrity, and doing the right thing morally and ethically. So all I can say is that I have defined my person, who I am and my character, based on openness, honesty, and integrity. And I plan on only building on that reputation as a political leader. I am not doing it for the money by any means. I’m actually sacrificing a lot just by running for office. Now, as you know, the area is is not extremely NDP supportive or progressive supportive at the moment. My business world is the same. There’s a lot of conservative leaning business owners out there who I have as clients, and coming out as an NDP candidate, and aggressively promoting progressive policies, it’s already been a significant sacrifice to me. But I feel like it’s important to advocate for what you believe in, stand up for what’s right, and do the right thing, no matter what, even if it means personal sacrifice.


  1. Some anonymous and negative comments were posted here after this interview. We do not think such anonymous statements deserve public viewing in an election campaign. If you have something to say, have enough integrity to sign your real name and provide evidence of your statements.


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