With a provincial election looming, the Party for People with Special Needs has plans of running a candidate in all of Ontario’s 108 ridings.
“We are expanding to all 108 ridings in Ontario. We want to spread the word and we are looking for candidates in all ridings,” said John Redins, one of the nine candidates from the Party for People with Special Needs who ran in the last provincial election.
In the 2011 election, Redins took on Liberal Ottawa South candidate and Liberal leader Dalton McGuinty and ended up garnering 238 votes.
The party has fielded candidates in two provincial elections to help raise awareness of issues affecting people with disabilities.
“There are many issues that need to be looked at to improve lives of people with disabilities in Ontario,” said the 46-year-old Redins, who is currently living on disability benefits following his second hip replacement and uses a walker to get around.
He said he decided to get involved with the fledgling issue-based party when he found he wasn’t getting the answers he needed during his struggle with arthritis.
“I was a McGuinty supporter, but there are some obstacles I feel are not being addressed in this riding,” he said.
By continuing to run candidates in the provincial elections, Redins hopes that will help create pressure on the major parties to listen to issues that are important to people with disabilities and seniors.
“It helps to get our message across and our ideas get heard,” he said.
One of the major issues his party would be pushing hard for is introducing tougher drinking and driving laws, said Redins.
“The cost of medical and the hardships it brings to families as a result of injuries is unimaginable,” said Redins.
“We are into these for people with disabilities to have a say.”
While the idea of contesting all ridings province-wide may sound good for the party, Redins agrees it is hard to compete with the three major parties.
“We don’t have as much money as they do,” he said.
When he run during the last elections Redins said he had zero budget.
“Funding was a major challenge during my last campaign. I had no money to start with but I just went for it and debated on social and other issues that matter most to people with special needs,” he said.
“I tried all my best to get the message out, even without any advertising.”
Redins said the party is increasing its presence on social media to help counter the funding gap.
“We are increasing our visibility on social media to get the message across - it is the only way we can get the message out for the time being,” he said.
A general election has been widely expected in Ontario ever since Dalton McGuinty announced he was stepping down as premier.
His announcement on Oct. 15 came amid opposition accusations that he misled the legislature over power plant cancellations that will cost taxpayers upwards of $230 million and pressure from teachers’ unions over his efforts to freeze their wages and take away their ability to strike.
“From what I gather the opposition was stalling the bills. Basically, all three parties were playing political games and it wasn’t getting anything done,” said Redins. “So why bother sit in the legislature when you are not doing anything.”
Redins is also an active member of ACORN Ottawa, which fights for social housing and poverty alleviation.