Ottawa/Queen's Park




At the local Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound Liberal nomination meeting on Thursday, Selwyn Hicks was acclaimed as the candidate for the upcoming provincial election.  The following are excerpts from his acceptance speech.

"In the spring of 1972, at the age of nine, my two sisters (who are with us tonight) and I arrived in Canada on a plane that crash-landed into Toronto.  True story.  The front wheel of the plane was stuck and wouldn’t come out for landing.  So, after crash landing, we exited the plane on a slide that deposited us into foam they had laid on the runway to combat the fire.  When I landed in the foam, I yelled out “snow”.  Folks, there is no snow in Guyana where I was born.  I thought I was seeing snow for the first time.  A kind military officer who picked me up explained that the foam was not snow.

I come from a family of six kids raised by a single mother.  We lived in the notorious Driftwood Court projects in the Jane/Finch community of Toronto.  Who would have ever thought that a runt of a kid – weighing 67 pounds in high-school – with a big Michael Jackson afro – and some pretty decent dance moves – would end up before you today as the Liberal Candidate in the race for MPP for Bruce – Grey – Owen Sound.  I am truly humbled.  

You may be wondering two things.  First, why do I want to be an MPP?  Second, why do I want to be a Liberal MPP?  Let’s start with the first question.

My entire life has been dedicated to community service in some way.  I decided I wanted to be a Social Worker because I was passionate about wanting to help people.  One of the jobs I had early in my career was as a “Street Worker”.  My job was to assist young people living on the streets of downtown Toronto.  I became frustrated because I wanted to make a difference and it seemed that I was simply applying band aids to gaping wounds.  It was then that I turned to political engagement as a Young Liberal.  Mentors like Jerry Phillips, Alvin Curling , Greg Sorbara and Gerard Kennedy got me involved in policy teams where my ideas were welcomed.  Through that process, I discovered that the lawyers played an important role in the drafting and positioning of policies which inspired me to go to Law School.  I wanted to study law so that I could become a better advocate.  Soon after completing law school, I quickly gravitated to Municipal politics whilst also supporting my family through the practice of law.  Every municipal politician – particularly rural political municipal representatives know that you don’t do it for money. You do it because you have a passion for people, community service and bottom line – making communities better places for people to live in.

Here’s an example.  Over the last three years – as Warden for the County of Grey – I have been able to call on my Council to make a bold move on Affordable Housing.  Council took up the challenge .  Together with community partners, we were able to do some amazing things with respect to affordable and attainable housing in Grey County.  We now have a newly-established “Affordable Housing Fund” where proceeds from the sale of surplus county assets are deposited and dedicated for affordable housing.  We also implemented a policy for a 1% tax levy – each and every year moving forward completely dedicated to Affordable Housing.  Friends – that’s the stuff that excites me.  Passionate, principled people working collaboratively to listen to people and to respond in a meaningful way.

In December of 2021, in my inaugural speech as Warden, I called on my Council to, once again, step up and make a bold move to address Mental Health and Addictions.  More people died from opioid overdose in Grey – Bruce than the fatalities as a result of COVID.  I’m happy to tell you that a Mental Health and Addictions Task Force is already hard at work.  We already know that we will have to take action to establish more youth mental health beds and more geriatric mental health beds.  By the way, the work that we did on affordable housing blends beautifully with the work we are doing on Mental Health.  We know that a range of affordable housing is needed.  We need independent housing.  We need supportive housing.  And, we need housing with supports.  There is a difference.

My work with the Western Ontario Warden’s Caucus and my involvement with AMO (Association of Municipalities of Ontario) initiatives have permitted me to get a good understanding of the challenges faced by communities all across Ontario.  Interestingly, the challenges in Bruce – Grey – Owen Sound are shared with other communities across Ontario.  Things like:

Expansion of broadband infrastructure in rural and remote communities;
Attracting doctors, nurses and support workers in rural communities;
Attracting a diverse labour force to support economic growth;
Climate change; 
Expansion of electric charging infrastructure as we migrate away from fossil fuels; 
Reform of Long-Term Care and better supports for home care

To name just a few.

Turning now to the second question I wanted to address.  Why do I want to be a Liberal MPP?  Here’s the answer. .. As I examine my philosophical and value-based underpinnings, I know that I am a Liberal.  For me, the Liberal tent is inclusive and allows for a wide range of ideas.  Liberals are not radical anything.  We are balanced.  I can be comfortable as an MBA with strong business principles whilst also being a Social Worker, Lawyer and advocate with traditionally left-leaning ideas.  In short, I am most comfortable in the Liberal family.

You’ve been most gracious listening to me prattle on.  So, I’ll close with this.  Thank you for placing your confidence in me.  I’m honoured.  You will find in me a candidate that is passionate, compassionate and hard working.  The task ahead of us friends is not going to be easy.  There’s a certain arrogance in Bruce – Grey – Owen Sound that this is a safe Conservative riding.  Well – I’m here to serve notice that that’s no longer the case.  I believe that the voters in our riding are ready to consider a new brand of leadership.  A brand they have come to expect from a Warden that listens to them and gets things done.

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