Mark Gerretsen is the current MP and Liberal Party of Canada candidate for Kingston and the Islands for the 2019 federal election. Born at Kingston General Hospital, Gerretsen has been “fortunate enough to live here” his entire life. Gerretsen attended his first Liberal convention when his father, John Gerretsen, ran for Leader of the Ontario Liberal Party in 1996, and has been an active Liberal since. He likes to spend as much of his free time as possible with his wife, Vanessa, and their three children, Mason, Frankie, and Vivian, walking to the park or heading downtown for some ice cream. While the Liberal Party plans to present their platform as the election unfolds, Gerretsen said he personally believes a national pharmacare plan, eliminating single-use plastics, addressing other environmental challenges, and accessing federal funding for more affordable housing in Kingston are top priorities.
1. What made you decide to run in this federal election?
Our country has come so far in four years, and I am eager to continue moving forward with this progressive agenda. Together, we have lifted 800 thousand people out of poverty and reduced our country’s unemployment to the lowest it has been in over 40 years. We have made historic investments in infrastructure, which we see locally through federal funding for the third crossing, and we have ensured that funding for research and development has been restored, which has directly benefited our three post-secondary institutions and our local innovation sector. I look forward to advancing interests and maximizing opportunities for this community, should I be elected a second term.
2. In your opinion, what is the most important issue being discussed during this election?
So many of us recognize that climate change is the most pressing challenge that we face in the 21st century, and I have made a personal and professional commitment to advocate for our environment. I strongly believe that we need to take action to ensure that, together, we build a cleaner future for generations to come. I take great pride in personally getting involved in the change we so desperately need. I was one of the first people awarded a MicroFIT contract back in 2008 to produce rooftop solar electricity, and my family has been driving electric cars since 2011.
3. What is the single most common thing constituents bring up when you’re going door-to-door?
When my team and I are knocking on doors, we receive positive feedback and support for local accomplishments like securing funding to re-open the prison farms and build the Third Crossing. I also hear many people talk about their desire to see us address the housing crisis and healthcare needs of so many people in our community. At the federal level, we have a 10-year plan to address housing and homelessness, and there are great opportunities for funding local initiatives. With healthcare, I believe passionately in a national pharmacare program. We also hear concern for greater environmental protections. I believe it is so important that the government elected in September has a plan that will meaningfully address climate change and protect our environment. I am proud of our accomplishments in this regard so far and look forward to the opportunity to continue this work if re-elected in October.
4. Is there one particular issue you would like to champion if elected to represent Kingston and the Islands?
We need to increase the housing supply in Kingston. It is so important that everyone has a safe and affordable place to call home, and the reality is that it is becoming more and more difficult for people to obtain. Working with municipal partners, I would make it a top priority to deliver more funding from the federal government for affordable housing.
5. In your opinion, what is the biggest issue with the current makeup of the federal government?
I am still a strong proponent of electoral reform. After holding a town hall in 2016, and many emails, calls, and meetings throughout my term, I have heard our community’s perspective on electoral reform and have relayed it to the Minister of Democratic Institutions. While we have taken important steps forward to strengthen and protect our democratic institutions — including increasing transparency in political fundraising and protecting our institutions from cyberattack — I remain committed to moving forward to enact electoral reform.
6. If you could share one message with voters in Kingston and the Islands, what would it be?
It has been an honour to represent our community in Ottawa these past four years. I am so proud of all that we have accomplished together. Locally, we were able to re-open the prison farms and secure funding for the third crossing, which is exactly what we set out to do. It would be a privilege to continue representing our community, so that I can continue to advance other priorities like pharmacare and affordable housing.