Aaron MacDonald, First Time Candidate

By John Swartz

SUNonline/Orillia profiles candidates from each party in the forthcoming provincial election. Each candidate was asked the same set of questions. All candidates were invited to participate, however Mark Douris of the New Blue Party and Jill Dunlop of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario did not make arrangements to meet with SUNonline/Orillia.

By John Swartz

The first impression of Aaron MacDonald is he’s a nice young guy, much younger than his 48 years. It’s less shocking to learn his age after he’s just mentioned he has 6 children in a blended marriage and 2 grandchildren. That’s not the only doesn’t fit the picture quality the Simcoe North Ontario Party candidate will make. His opinions on various topics sometimes don’t fit the impression of what the Ontario Party is about.

He ‘s been a county resident for a few years.

“I live in Tiny. My wife and I moved up here in 2015,” from Hamilton MacDonald said. “We were looking to get out of the City. We tired of the hustle and bustle and really wanted to find something different.”

“I love living in Tiny. We like the open spaces. We like the environment. We like the beaches and people are a lot friendlier up here than they are in the City; you get caught off guard at the beginning of it.”

He works for a custom plastics manufacturer in Midland as a production supervisor.

“I was director of transportation for one Canada’s larger dedicated carriers, so customers like Sobeys, Loblaws, Home Depot and LCBO.” MacDonald also squeezes in a couple other part-time jobs to his week.

This is the first time he’s running for office, but not the first time he thought about running.

“I had a pull to run for a long time. Even in my late teens. I was working my first retail store, a book store, and I actually thought of running in the Hamilton municipal election at that time. Never did. The last election I had a couple messages back and forth with Doug Ford on potentially running in this riding, which he said to go for it, but, again, I came back and just kind of did my own thing. For some reason with everything that’s going with the pandemic and the lockdowns and everything else I just felt if I’m going to do this at all and I’m feeling pulled to do it, I should do it now,” MacDonald said.

Why the Ontario Party?

“Up to December, I really hadn’t heard about the Ontario Party. The Ontario Party has been around since 2018, they ran 5 candidates in the last election. I had followed Derek Sloan for a little while and when he joined the Ontario Party in December I looked at them. I looked up the website. They only had one thing on it and that was their up to date charter. The charter just resounded with me, I liked it. They didn’t have much to do from a platform perspective yet because they were just gearing up. Something in it made me apply to see if I could become a candidate.”

The party colour is blue, and they are another entry on the right side of the aisle.

“As a conservative myself, I don’t believe a lot of the policies, or the budgets the current conservative party are putting out are truly conservative. They ran on several platforms in 2018 they haven’t fulfilled at all. One of them was balancing the budget and I understand we went through a couple years of uncertainty and everything else, but they also ran on a platform of repealing the Liberal sex education curriculum, which they put back in place almost verbatim; they changed two things in the whole thing. To me those are not conservative values. They also unanimously supported Bill 67 (Equity in Education Act) which would have enshrined discrimination within our education system. It’s not something we should be forcing on our teachers and forcing on our students”

Being with a new party there are things a candidate might believe can be better and MacDonald has one.

“We’ve gone from zero to a hundred in a very short period of time. I think we are picking up steam in a lot of areas, but some of the ways they come across initially with some of the platform ideas, I think could be conveyed a little bit differently. I’ll use affordable housing as an example; our first part was we wanted to be able to control as a province the amount of immigration coming into the province and where peopled settled because we don’t have enough supply of housing with the average price of a home being $1 million, but 50% of all the immigration coming into Canada comes into Ontario, but at the same time Trudeau allowed Quebec to control how many come in and where they are settled,” MacDonald said. He thinks immigrants put more pressure on an already pressurized housing market.

“We are not against immigration. It’s not about that at all, but to continuously bring people in and not have a place to give them, to provide for them, to allow them to prosper, I think that’s unfair to both. It was just how it was worded and it’s been changed subsequently where obviously you want to look at the regulations; you want to make it easier for people to build multi- unit houses, especially where you have urban sprawl. Right now it’s all single family dwellings, that doesn’t help get people into houses. If we could relax the regulations a little bit we can help people get into multi-unit. I don’t want to say it brings down the value of the house, but the overall price of the house. We need to give people hope they can buy a $250,000 to $300,000 starter home.”

How does MacDonald find out what he needs to know in order to be an effective MPP?

“I think you need to look at all, everything, and put it on the table. That’s independence depending on the situation; that’s independent researchers, independent scientists, that’s the community at large, obviously as well as the party. I think you need to have a broad approach to everything. What we see today, I’ll use the pandemic as an example, but we have doctors who went to the exact same schools, and I’ll use virologists that went to the exact same schools, the exact same degrees, but have differing opinions on the exact same disease.”

“If I share something on my social media, or whatever it may be, I don’t just carte blanche. I’ll look at it, I’ll check out the doctors, check out whatever and I’ll go back and, OK, is this doctor actually affiliated with this school, or this research center, or whatever it may be. This person won this award, OK, let me check into that specific award. I want to see where those credentials are and I want to see it related to that school or that research center, otherwise I won’t post it,” he said.


Each Candidate was specifically asked – does privatization make healthcare better? as a starting point.

“I think there’s an aspect of privatization that would help. Obviously we have a socialized medical system, but there’s other countries that are similar to Canada – Australia, the U.K., even Alberta, as an example – I lived in Alberta for several years as a kid, but I’ve had conversations with my mom who doesn’t share the same political belief system I do, and she agrees with that healthcare system where you’ve got that public system, but you have a private component – doctors outside the system.”

“A lot of them will say we need to increase funding for this stuff and we’re going to pay for it by taxing the rich. How many rich people do you believe that are actually in Canada that can actually pay for all this – and they do pay a lot of money already? Why don’t we turn it up on its head and say, OK, let’s add some private aspects to it and if you have the money, why wouldn’t I allow you to have your surgery tomorrow and free up the bed I might need in three days from now. That way you get it done and out of the way. It’s now your money that’s paying for that stuff and the public money can be divvied up between the hospitals, doctors and all that other stuff. It decreases the wait time for those that can’t necessarily afford it. Instead of taxing you, you now have the option to pay for it yourself, so now you’re not going down to the States to do it, because they are doing it already. Why not keep it in Canada?”

Rather than put more money into the healthcare system to stem the tide of personnel leaving, McDonald thinks allowing medical professionals to have private practices would solve morale and money issues.

“I think it should be a certain percentage. The only way we can impact the system that we have today is if it’s going to benefit everybody. We can’t just say if you want to go into private practice, go to private practice versus stay in the public. I only say that because you don’t want to further exasperate the situation we already have. We already have wait times that are just astronomical and the pandemic has just pushed that out further. We’ve got examples around the world that have similar healthcare systems and their wait times are greatly better than ours.”

“The other piece of it is, we need to look at how much administration do we have. One of the points I made is why wouldn’t we take a look at all these bureaucracies. They’re not elected officials, they aren’t representatives, they were put in place for whatever reason; how much red tape do we go through today? And I’m not saying go willy-nilly on the regulations because I think certain safeguards need to be put in place, but if tax dollars are going to be paid for people to be pencil pushers, versus the front line workers, that needs to be corrected. We need more doctors, nurses and people on the frontline that are caring for people versus people above those people controlling what they do.”

Another way to deal with the staff shortage is with training, and making medical jobs more appealing as an attractive career choice. An attitude adjustment on the part of education policy makers might encourage more students to want to go to medical related careers.

“We’ve got these countries that are miles ahead of us from an academia perspective. From our perspective, we’re pushing ideologies that don’t help the kids. Teachers really need to get back to those core values or reading, writing, arithmetic,”

And art?

“And arts, absolutely. And I would take that one step further, part of art is right down to cursive writing, which is a personal art and it’s a discipline that people learn to be able to focus, it’s your personality. We don’t do any of that today.”

Orillia needs a new hospital. One of the reasons is the current one is a complex of buildings constructed in different decades, and it’s hard to run hospital wide systems in such a collection of buildings. Many people do not want a new hospital outside of the downtown core, would MacDonald do what he can to make sure a hospital isn’t built on the fringe of town?

“Absolutely. One of the things I love about my party specifically is we have this thing for conscientious rights. I can vote based on my conscience, I don’t have to toe a party line. The current MPP, if their leader says, “we’re doing this,” if you don’t vote that way you have the potential of being reprimanded on some way. We’ve seen it over the last two years where MPPs and MPs have been kicked out of their parties for going against the grain. If the people in Simcoe North want to do something a certain way, that’s the way I’m going to vote.”

It’s still a thing to ask candidates where they stand on abortion.

“No, because I’m pro life. I believe we have many ways of contraception. One of them is abstinence. I don’t think abortion should be used as a birth control method and I believe life starts at conception,” MacDonald said.

“I think it all comes down to one, I don’t think the government should be involved at all, period. I don’t think that it should be back alley abortion clinics. I think they need a clean and sterile place to potentially have it. I understand there’s situations where it may be required. If I was to choose between my wife versus an incorrect pregnancy, I’m going to choose my wife. I know there’s medical procedures out there.

I think if we get into a situation, which is a very small amount of the time where it’s potentially a disastrous thing like rape, or something like that, I think first and foremost we need to take care of those women that were traumatized and, for lack of a term, coddle the heck out them to at least give them the options to make a proper, informed decision. As long as we’ve provided every necessary option to them, at the end of the day, it’s still their choice.”

That sounds like a qualified yes.

“Correct, but I also believe that we should have able to, which doctors can’t today – I don’t think the government should have over-reaching ability to mandate you to act or say a certain thing. You have your own conscience, you have your own belief systems, you have your own autonomy to make decisions yourself.”

“At the end of the day, I’m not going to force my will and the government should force their will on anybody.”


Each candidate was also asked the same starter question – why should corporations be allowed to own so much of rental stock (30% in many larger cities) and control prices?

“I think any time you get governments or corporations involved in something that impacts the people, there’s a potential for issues. I don’t know about pushing out what’s already in place. I think it needs to be looked at. I don’t have an issue with individuals, I know people who have two or three houses and they do rent them out. That’s small potatoes versus corporations. It does tend to push up the rental market and the housing market. You can’t compete with someone that’s got a multi-million dollar budget to just purchase houses.”

So then there should be some rules restricting corporations to a power dynamic equal to a family that just wants a home?

“Individuals and corporations should be treated separately. When I say deregulate things, or take a look a the regulations and red tape that are in place today, a lot of it is trying to build and develop more housing to increase the supply. I don’t think you should try and potentially monopolize for those corporations that have the money to be able to corner the market and dictate what the rental rates are, but if we can increase the supply, then are not going to be able to charge $2,500 a month for a basement apartment.”

“There’s three to four points we currently have on our platform. First and foremost is reducing the amount of regulations that are required to build multi unit houses, especially in very urban, dense areas. The second piece is to control where immigration comes into and where it flows to, to try and mitigate some of the supply issues we have today. And thirdly we want to put a ban on any foreign investment. We want to keep the houses we do have for people of Ontario. Without doing that, we’re just allowing foreign investment, potentially money laundering and all that other stuff to just creep into our system.”

Work and Social Assistance

Again a starter question kicked off discussion with each candidate – why is it OK for some Ontarians to live below the poverty line?

“I don’t think it’s OK to have Ontarians living below the poverty line. I think we need to look at it a little bit more broadly, though. I know and work with a ton of people who are on ODSP. I think we need to look at what are those levels today. I think we need to take a balanced approach to it. Are these people allowed to work because there’s a lot of people who are allowed to work, but then they get a claw back after the fact? Why wouldn’t you support them from this perspective and allow them a little bit more? People want responsibility, they like accountability, it actually builds self esteem,” MacDonald said.

The recently cut disability and welfare monthly allowances aren’t enough for anyone to cover rent in today’s housing market.

“I have a family member that’s on ODSP. I know how much they make. I’m not a homeowner, I’m a renter. There’s a huge difference. Do you want heat, especially in winter? What are the things that are in place today, versus what is required and say is this new standard? Depending on the person, if they are able to work and top up and get them into the community and get them potentially off of those programs, I think the goal of the government should be to help people get up. I like hand ups versus hand outs.”

Minimum wage levels are so 1990s. Starter jobs were just that and not meant to replace jobs people rely on to pay rent or mortgages, buy food, dress decently, and pay utilities. How does the Ontario Party solve that? MacDonald wants to see labour pool mismatches worked on.

“Here’s all the in demand job markets we openings for, why don’t I look at trying to pay for your education so you can get into one of those markets.”

And as time marches on, what is clear to many paying attention professionally is there clearly won’t be enough jobs available for the size of the labour force – to the tune of likely millions of excess workers. People being left behind by robots and automation won’t be able to trade their formerly higher wage jobs for one of those starter jobs because the latter are being automated right now. How does the Ontario party propose to deal with such massive unemployment?

“I think there’s always going to be something. The technology is advancing exponentially. We need to take a look at the job sectors and how they are going to evolve, try and get people moved over to those things and I think as government it’s our role to help transition that.”

Experts are pretty clear about heading off upheaval on a scale not seen since the Great Depression (without the depression but with all the food lines). Now is the time to figure out how to deal with those cast off by corporations, but of course the hard part is getting anyone in government to even understand the problem in the first instance.

“I get the concept. Where I haven’t wrapped my head around yet is where’s the government getting the money from? I’ve heard instead of a payroll tax on the employee, we’ll tax them based on the robot they put in place. So the corporations are still paying for certain aspects. But how much is that basic income? Is it $30,000 a year for 15 million people? Where does that money come from? What gives people the drive and responsibility? Yes you get some peace of mind, but there’s that achievement piece.”

Corporations have been dumping their responsibilities to their workers onto the public treasury for decades, are we now expected to let them dump the whole lot on us so they can save salary expenses and increase dividends?

“I think we need to get back to cause and effect, the grassroots side of things. We need to look at how corporations are set up. We need to look at the regulations that are in place that government has imposed on individuals as well as corporations. I think a lot of it comes down to corporate greed.”

Public Discourse

Communications are shot. Shot between politicians, between the government and the rest of us, between friends and families. It’s been driven by online theaters spreading misinformation and a happy media amplifying it because controversy draws viewers, which makes for higher ad sales.

Far right extremists have proven to be responsible for much of the misinformation, aided by Russian technology, so is it time for the government to step in?

“I think there is (trouble) on both sides. You can’t tell places like the Baltimore riots, which is mostly left based, and was mostly peaceful; they cause billions of dollars of damage.”

“As soon as you get to the extremities, you’re going to have provocateurs, regardless. Social media has made us the most anti-social. My wife said it perfectly, ‘you don’t want to sell your soul just for a few votes,’ and I’m not doing that.”

“As long as you get people in a group and they’re all level headed, everybody’s got the right frame of mind. Elizabeth’s (Van Houtte) got good ideas, Aaron”s (Cayden Hiltz) got good ideas. It’s just getting everybody into the room and having a conversation.”

“It’s got to be at every level, specifically on the municipal level because it’s hands on; specifically in the provincial level because it supports the hands on. I can’t count on my hands how many times I’ve heard, “I’ve sent and email, or phone call to my current MPP’s office and I don’t get a response, at all.”

Highways Or Public Transit?

European countries have taken bold steps with public transit, making it more desirable than owning a car, let alone driving one, which significantly reduces greenhouse gas too. So, shouldn’t the province be investing the billions earmarked for new and rebuilt highways and put the money into public transit?

“If you have to drive to work – I don’t have a bus system where I am. I like living in that type of environment. I don’t want to live in an apartment in a city. The only way I’m going to get away from driving my car to work every day is if I live in an apartment in a city that has a transit system where I live 2 seconds form work. I want to have a garden. I want to go out and enjoy nature.”

“We have a role to play. The actual impact that we’re playing in it, I don’t know. I would say it would be more of a country by country type scenario. When you’ve got the second largest economy in the world being treated as a growing economy and allowing them to spew out what they do; India, Pakistan, China, Russia, they contribute the majority of what impacts us today. How do we get a communist regime, get their human rights up, get their quality of life up?”

“I think we should be looking at our transit systems. We need to look at government as a whole and where that waste is and if we can divert it to improving our transit systems. People I work with rely on transit. The transit system within the Midland, Penetang, connecting to Barrie, it’s very sparse, it’s limited in where it actually stops. We should be trying to improve all those things and money should be funneled there. We got buck a beer last time, we got buck a bus ride this time. What are they going to do to reduce the costs within those transit systems so it’s not going to cost the taxpayer?”

Corporate Restraint

Corporations have been dumping their responsibilities to their workers onto the public treasury for decades, are we now expected to let them dump the whole lot on us so they can save salary expenses and increase dividends?

“I think we need to get back to cause and effect, the grassroots side of things. We need to look at how corporations are set up. We need to look at the regulations that are in place that government has imposed on individuals as well as corporations. I think a lot of it comes down to corporate greed.”

The upsetting part is there are solutions to almost all of society’s problems available right now. No one has to reinvent the wheel. Either the existing power structure won’t let government act, or government is afraid of annoying the power set.

“Because there’s no money in it. We don’t have a healthcare system. We have a pharma system. Why don’t we get away from GMO processed foods? There’s more than enough agriculture and food to feed the world today. Why doesn’t it happen? Because there’s no money in it. Why don’t we take a look at it, put it on its ear and reinvent it. Canada should be self-sufficient and supply the world.”

“Not taking oil from overseas and then having it taxed; it’s funneled through somebody’s corporate business; if you’re supporting it, there’s a reason for it. Why aren’t we building a pipeline? Who doesn’t want pipelines? I’ll take them to Ontario. It creates jobs. It creates sustainability. Should we be going to the environmental side of things and trying to reduce our carbon output and everything else? Yes, 100%, I completely agree.”

“We’ve got a lot of wind up there (Northern Ontario), no trees to block it, why aren’t we using it. We don’t were put up greenhouses so that we’re supplying Canada with all its fruit and vegetables and everything else. We have the technology. Let’s use the space we have. Canada is so spread out and we have all these land masses that aren’t necessarily livable, they could be productive.

We have the cleanest awesome resources of water, we have forests, we have everything we need as a nation to be self-sufficient and to lead – which we already do from a climate perspective.

The Last Word

This is the space where MacDonald’s views on education will reside.

“I’m coming from a place where I have family members throughout (the education system). My cousin stated he’s against teachers pushing their ideologies on children. They are there to teach. Your student should not know how you’re politically affiliated. If he’s saying that as a teacher, it’s there, it’s happening. I don’t like using the term indoctrination, but we should be teaching kids critical thinking skills, we should not be teaching how to regurgitate things so they can pass a test.”

“I’ll give you two examples; this is in talking to the parents of the students. This to me should not even exist in our school system, and this is a candidate of ours. She’s married to a man of colour, they have a biracial child – and this is coming back to Bill 67 the Equity in Education Act. They went to school and they were centered out in the classroom because she needed to be treated as separate and special because of the colour of the colour of their skin. She went home, distraught, because she’s like, ‘I’m like every other kid. I don’t get what’s going on here.’”

(Bill 67: Racial Equity in the Education System Act, 2022 does not contain anything about curriculum or how race or gender issues should be taught in classrooms.)

“There’s another example, literally five minutes away from my house. There’s these books that travel around between schools. This teacher, the teacher is a good teacher, but there was three or four books that were hanging around the classroom and one of the books was called Nine (by Zach Hines). It basically states that humans have 9 lives and the goal is to burn through those 9 lives by committing suicide. The (fictional) government promotes and incentivizes people to commit suicide and burn through their lives for depopulation purposes, but they go through the exact ways that these students are committing suicide.”

“I wouldn’t have as much of an issue if the parents who are still responsible for the children, knew the topics of these books that are being transferred around and communicating to the children. Based on the age of the children and what they are going through hormonally at the time, to me is inappropriate.”

But we all read and studied books like Brave New World, 1984, Animal Farm and  Lord of the  Flies, why shouldn’t students be exposed to ideas, abhorrent as they may be, and have discussion on merit, or lack of?

“When you were reading those books, what age was it targeting? I get what you are saying, but I think there are stages in our lives where certain concepts shouldn’t necessarily be brought up yet.”

(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia) Main: Simcoe North Ontario Party candidate Aaron MacDonald


Other Candidate Profiles:

Krystal Brooks

Aaron Cayden Hiltz

William Joslin

Elizabeth Van Houtte

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