Matthew Chambers, Oxford NDP candidate for the 2019 federal election, opened the campaign office doors Saturday afternoon for an official open house.
“This is the official open house, campaign kickoff, welcome,” said Chambers. “It’s about getting people interested in joining in the campaign, and we’re starting to see that now. More people are calling in to take a sign or donate because they see us, really, as the best chance to win.”
Chambers, 20, joined the New Democratic Party of Canada in 2017 and was Communications Chair for the Oxford NDP campaign in the 2018 provincial election, coordinating signage, volunteers and working phones in the office.
“I had always followed politics, of course, and I most self-identify with the NDP. I felt like this was the perfect time for me to run… one, while I’m young, and two, I couldn’t afford to go to college or university thanks to our illustrious provincial government and changing up the OSAP criteria – it completely threw me out of the running for that. So I figured, ‘You know what, let’s do something. If I can’t change it provincially, I’ll try to change it federally.’
“This election is about priorities and we’re prioritizing people,” said Chambers. “So while (Justin) Trudeau and (Andrew) Scheer call their big rallies and get all the media focus and attention on them, we’re going out, talking to people, and hearing what concerns them.”
Going door to door, Chambers said he has been hearing what worries people, what keeps them up at night. They talk about how prescription medication costs are going up and how people are having a hard time affording it.
“I talked to somebody in Woodstock the other day, she can’t afford her medication. She’s on medication for several different things and she’s had to make those horrible decisions like ‘Will I get my medication today or will I eat today?’ That just boggles the mind that in Canada – in 2019 – that people are having to make those decisions.
“Healthcare is a big priority. Our plan for healthcare is to not only to expand it to include pharmacare, but expand it to include vision care, dental care, hearing care, and for the first time mental health care, making it a truly head to toe coverage system in Canada, expanding on what Tommy Douglas started.”
Accessibility to affordable housing is another major issue, he said.
“Part of our platform is we’re committed to building 500,000 new affordable housing units right across the country. And that includes down here in Southwestern Ontario.”
While the NDP office is in Woodstock, Chambers has been campaigning across the county.
“What I have tried to do when I go campaigning is a day in Woodstock, a day in Ingersoll, a day in Tillsonburg, and I try to get to the smaller areas as well because so many times they are forgotten about – Embro, Tavistock, Beachville… Brant, that portion of Brant that is ours – there was a boundary re-draw for the elections.”
“We made huge gains provincially,” said Tara King, Chambers’ campaign manager. “We got 16,000 votes, so we doubled our voter base in the provincial election, which is going to be huge for Matthew in this campaign. For a riding like Oxford to double the voter base in one election is a huge gain for us. And I think, focusing on reaching those small communities and identifying support in places like Norwich, that we didn’t necessarily know there was support there, and reaching out further to Tillsonburg and up to Drumbo…”
“We hope to expand on that,” Chambers nodded. “We’re not to be counted out in Oxford.”
The federal election is less than one month away and Chambers has a daily schedule leading up to Monday, Oct. 21.
“I’m here at the office in the morning for a little bit, then I’m given my list of stuff to do and then I’m gone again till maybe in the evening.”
“I think a lot about winning any election is organization,” said King. “And Matthew has a great team of executives on his side.”
“I wouldn’t be able to do it without the team,” said Chambers. “Having a good team really helps and I’ve got an excellent team – best in the country as far as I’m concerned.”
The Oxford NDP campaign office (476 Peel Street, Woodstock) can be reached at 226-242-0853, the website is matthewchambers.ndp.ca or email email@example.com.
“We have a strong social media and Twitter page,” Chambers noted. “Our page has actually gained national attention. Ridings from all the way out in Alberta and ones in Quebec are sharing our stuff.”