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Robert Quaiff opens Liberal campaign office in the County

Provincial Liberal candidate Robert Quaiff opened his Prince Edward County campaign office at 126 Main St., Picton on Saturday by telling supporters the party stands for beliefs near and dear to his heart.

Soon to celebrate their 41st wedding anniversary, his wife Susan said the decision to support her husband’s move from being the municipality’s mayor to his quest at the provincial level was an easy one.

“There are so many things about the Liberal platform that meet with our thoughts around how people should be able to live in our Ontario,” she said. “There are so many platforms that are important to us  in our lives and with our young families and the children that I see and work with every day (as executive director of The Hub Child and Family Services). Some have been struggling, harsh and hard at times for awhile.”

Those platforms, he agreed, are “everything that I believe in and everything that steered me toward the Liberal party.”

He explained to supporters that while serving over the past almost 14 years as a councillor, then as the County’s mayor – and particularly last year as chair of the Eastern Ontario Wardens’ Caucus – he gained plenty of insight into the workings at Queen’s Park.

“That means there’s a lot of lobbying and work to do with all three parties. You get to ask them what their plan is for you. The only people who had a plan were the Liberals and they were listening and paying attention,” said Quaiff. “The PCs I remember to this day that Patrick Brown was pointing his finger at us – saying we had to support them because they were the only party doing this, this and this and they didn’t, actually. Then we went to the NDPs and not once in all the meetings that I went into, was Andrea Horwath there. But when you sat down with the Liberals and you started to have conversations, eveything they explained I thought, omigosh, that’s me, that’s my values and what I stand for. Things like free preschool, expanded OHIP and free prescription drugs for seniors over 65 and those under 25.”

He recalled personal stories of incidents that opened his eyes to the need for assistance with medical care and education.

Sitting with their daughter as her newborn had to spend time in Kingston hospital, and many trips to Sick Kids in Toronto following, “I think about all of those families that were up there at the time that couldn’t afford their medications that now we have free of charge.”

He also recalled filling out paperwork in Grade 11 to apply for college or university, and a conversation with his dad about lack of money to pursue his dream to become a lawyer.

“I dropped the pencil, finished Grade 12 and at 18, I started at Essroc Cement,” said Quaiff, noting that the experiences he had over the years in every faucet at the plant ended up giving him an invaluable education.

“I got to do every job there… and I even remember walking the picket line. We were on strike and Susie and I just had baby number three. I had a mortgage and three small kids and here I am walking a picket line getting $35 a week. ”

He persevered and later became union president, did investigations, arbitrations and represented himself at a WSIB tribunal following back surgery.

“I was successful and thought to myself ‘You know what? I could have been that lawyer… So it was gratifying in the end and I’m hoping that this is going to be gratifying. I have really enjoyed being a councillor, and really enjoyed being a mayor and now I really want to enjoy being your MPP.

“I’m retired and my work ethic is there,” he said. “I want to work together in promoting this entire region – whatever happens in Prince Edward County is good for Belleville and Quinte West and the same over there. What happens with them, is great for us as well.

“We need to keep moving forward to build a fairer, better, Ontario where everyone shares in its prosperity, not a time to go backward with cuts to our local hospitals, schools and secret plans to pave over our green spaces… I have spent my career and time as mayor fighting for this community, and with your support, will continue fighting to make sure the priorities of the Bay of Quinte are heard at Queen’s Park to make sure everyone has what they need to get ahead.”

Later Saturday, the Quaiffs attended a rally in the Hastings area with Liberal leader Kathleen Wynne. The event, at the farm of John and Cynthia Crowley, featured a barbecue with incumbents Jeff Leal and Lou Rinaldi, who are running in the realigned ridings of Peterborough-Kawartha and Northumberland-Peterborough South.

Filed Under: Local News

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