Four Jamaicans are among the more than 500 candidates seeking office in tomorrow’s provincial elections in Ontario, Canada. They are Alvin Curling, Mary Anne Chambers, Monica Purdy who will run for the Ontario Liberal Party (OLP), while Yvette Blackburn is a candidate for the Ontario New Democratic Party (NDP). The other party fielding candidates for the elections is the Progressive Conservative Party (PCP).
Ms Yvette Blackburn
Mr. Curling, is the political veteran of the four Jamaicans, having served as a member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) for the past 18 years. He was first elected in 1985 to the constituency of Scarborough North, now called Scarborough-Rouge River. As a member of the Liberal provincial government in the 1980s, Mr. Curling was Minister of Housing from 1985 to 1987, and Minister of Skills Development with special responsibility for literacy from 1987 to 1989. During his career, he also served as Parliamentary Assistant to the Premier of Ontario and to the Minister of Inter-governmental Affairs.
Ms Mary Anne Chambers
More than 75 per cent of the constituency of Scarborough-Rouge River is made up of minorities and the average household income is almost $56,000. Born in Kingston, Mr. Curling migrated to Canada in the early 1970s. Before entering politics, he worked as an Educational Administrator at Seneca College in Toronto. In 2000, he received the Order of Distinction, Commander class from the Jamaican government.
Just four months after retiring from her job as Senior Vice President at Scotiabank last December, Mrs. Chambers delivered her nomination address as the Ontario Liberal Party’s candidate for the constituency of Scarborough East. That night, she told the audience that she had ventured into politics because, “I was taught at an early age that I had a responsibility to give back and to reach out to those in need and to provide hope especially when things appear hopeless”.
Born in St. Andrew and educated at Immaculate Conception High School before migrating to Canada in 1967, Mrs. Chambers is the Vice Chair of the Rouge Valley Health System. She is the Immediate Past Chair of the Board of United Way of Canada, former Vice Chair of the Governing Council of the University of Toronto and past President of the Canadian Club of Canada. She co-founded the National Movement for Harmony in Canada.
Forty per cent of the 108,000 residents in Scarborough East, where Mrs. Chambers has lived since 1976, are minorities and the average household income is $58,000.
Mrs. Chambers was one of the recipients of the Prime Minister’s Medal of Appreciation and was in Jamaica in July to receive her award from Prime Minister, P.J. Patterson. Earlier this year, she was also presented with the 2003 Canada Day Achievement Award for voluntarism. Never forgetting the country of her birth, Mrs. Chambers has adopted the Wait-A-Bit Basic School in Trelawny.
Monica Purdy, the Liberal candidate for the constituency of Beaches-East York is a registered nurse with 18 years experience in the healthcare sector. She has worked on the front lines in acute care, administration and informatics. She currently works as a manager in the Informatics Department at Mount Sinai Hospital, one of Toronto’s well-known teaching hospitals, where she is assisting in the development of a programme to have patients’ information filed electronically.
Born in Ginger Ridge, St. Catherine, Ms. Purdy migrated to Canada in 1975. She is very active in the community, having served as a board member at Jessie’s Centre for Teenagers and currently a member of the Parent Council at her daughter’s school. A member of the Registered Nursing Association of Ontario (RNAO), she is involved in the Bylaw Committee and is a Regional Assembly Representative for the association.
The constituency of Beaches-East York, where Ms. Purdy has lived for the past 13 years, has a minority population of 27 per cent and an average household income of $50,000.
Born in St. Andrew, Yvette Blackburn migrated to Canada in 1973 at the tender age of four and has spent more than 30 of her 35 years in Windsor, which is just across the border from the United States city of Detroit.
After receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Criminology from the University of Windsor, Ms. Blackburn worked for the school board, counselling young people at risk. A member of the Board of the North American Black Historical Museum, she is also active with the Art Gallery of Windsor, a member of the Windsor West Indian Association and prior to becoming the Ontario New Democratic Party’s candidate for Windsor West, she was Executive Secretary of the National Council of Jamaicans and Supportive Organizations in Canada.Always very busy, Ms. Blackburn has served on the University of Windsor’s Strategic Planning Task Force, co-ordinated the Change Your Future Job Shadowing Programme and was an organizer of the Detroit-Windsor International Youth Summit.
The riding of Windsor West has a visible minority population of 15 percent and an average household income of $46,000.
Ontarians are eligible to vote in 103 constituencies on Thursday, October 2. The polls will open at 9 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. Only adult residents of the province of Ontario who are Canadian citizens are eligible to vote. Voters are allowed to cast their ballot by proxy, which means that he/she can appoint another qualified elector from the same electoral district, to vote on his/her behalf.