First-time candidate named to contest Thornhill for NDP
For Sandra Parrott, affordable housing is more than an election issue. It’s personal.
Parrott has lived in the same home, a co-op in the Yonge St. and Royal Orchard Blvd. neighbourhood, for the past 27 years. As a single mother of two grown children, she is sympathetic to the needs of low-income working families.
“There’s an eight- to nine-year waiting list for people to either get rent geared to income, or just plain, ordinary affordable housing,” Parrott said. “I find that people are spending way more than 35 percent of their income on shelter, which is making it really tight for people who just have average incomes and have a family. It’s really tough to make ends meet.”
Not content to sit on the sidelines any longer, the 51-year-old rookie candidate received the NDP’s nomination to run in the Thornhill riding last week.
The residents of Thornhill – all residents – deserve the best representation their tax money can buy down at Queen’s Park, she said. The status quo hasn’t worked in the riding, she added, and she hopes enough voters agree to make a difference in the provincial election on Oct. 10.
“It’s time for a change,” Parrott said. “We need someone in the neighbourhood who will work and give their all to the public, because that’s what the public is paying for. That’s where I feel I fit in. I represent all people from all walks of life. I include everyone.”
Though this is her first time heading up a campaign of her own, Parrott doesn’t lack experience. She entered politics in 1997 as a volunteer for Helen Breslauer’s campaign, and then again for Laurie Orrett’s unsuccessful election bid. Even before that, she says, she was involved in the community.
“I’ve always been active in the neighbourhood, fighting for the underdog,” she said.
Though affordable housing is her main cause, improving the lot of the poor or otherwise disadvantaged is a common theme in her fledgling campaign.
Other fundamental issues she highlighted include the plight of food banks; treatment of seniors, disabled people and veterans; government red tape and the glacial pace of provincial action; and the phasing in of the minimum-wage hike.
“I think the government should hurry up and increase the minimum wage to $10 an hour,” she said. “People in these minimum-wage jobs don’t generally have benefits on top of everything else.
“If they get sick, they have prescriptions to buy that they can’t afford. It’s a vicious circle, poverty.”
Frustrated by past attempts to get help from government, Parrott said she wouldn’t ignore the concerns of her constituents, regardless of party allegiance or economic status.
“If somebody in your neighbourhood contacts you – a voter – whether they voted for you or not, you are now the constituent’s representative,” she said. “You’re paid to be there to service the people.
“I’m definitely one of service. I never back down. I always come through.”
Born in Montreal on Canada Day, Parrot moved to the Toronto area in 1977 before settling into her Thornhill home a few years later. She divorced when her children were small, and never remarried. She worked at the York Region District School Board and the Canadian National Institute for the Blind to support her family.
With her kids now in their 20s, Parrott said she thought it was time for a new challenge.
“You need new adventures,” she said. “After you turn 50, you sit there and go, oh, my children are grown. What am I going to do for the rest of my life?”
If elected, something Parrott acknowledged is a long shot, she said there is one thing she would never do: “I wouldn’t BS the public, because I don’t appreciate it as a voter myself.”
Vaughan Today Friday, September 7, 2007 Page: 5 Byline: Philip Alves