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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Essex MPP announces he will not seek re-election

by Sylene Argent

When Taras Natyshak first campaigned to become a political representative for the NDP 16-years ago, he knew the job was going to be tough, but he was up for the task of advocating on behalf of his community.

  After a few attempts in the federal ring, Natyshak got his chance at being an upper-tier rep for his community when he was elected at the provincial-level around ten-years ago. After a decade of service and advocacy, the Essex MPP announced last week he would not seek re-election in 2022.

  He stated after being split between Essex and Queen’s Park, it is time to spend more time with family.

“It has been the honour of my life to be able to serve, and an incredible privilege that very few people get the opportunity to have,” Natyshak said. “There’s absolutely no way I could do it without the support of this community. You can’t fight those fights without knowing your community has your back. That’s been the secret to any measure of success that I have had, and I am just so grateful to the people of the Riding of Essex for entrusting me with that role.

  “What it feels like to fight for any issue on behalf of your community is just a huge sense of honour and privilege. To be entrusted as that person, who becomes the voice for so many, is just such a huge honour. There have been so many, when I look back on my career, so many battles.”

Some of the victories included fighting for a new regional hospital and the widening of Highway 3, and keeping thoracic cancer surgery and neonatal care in Windsor.

  He also enjoyed the role of NDP Critic for Ethics and Accountability.

  There were battles, too, that were not won. “And those are just as poignant, special, and impactful as the ones we did. It all came down to at least fighting, it was worthwhile. These were things people were passionate about and sincerely needed. They all feel the same, whether I won them and achieved the goal or not. It was always just an honour to be able to do it.”

  Over his career as the MPP of Essex, Natyshak said he never used his efforts for something he didn’t think was a benefit to the community.

“It feels as though I’ve been effective and that is all anyone could ever hope for in this job,” he said.

  Natyshak noted it is often said those who enter politics need to have thick skin or they are not going to be able to do that kind of work. “I would say, I found out that is actually not the case, but it was actually detrimental to the job, if you were callus to some of the things you heard, or the stories that you heard, or the issues you were dealing with. If you didn’t feel them in your heart, emotionally – if they didn’t affect you in some way – then you probably weren’t doing it right, or you were not going to be able to do it right. In a sense, whenever those issues came up, they always affected me, they always will.”

  Thick skin, in the sense of dealing with those with differing opinions is one thing, but when it comes to those battles, it is important, he said, to try and have a balance.

  In giving advice for the next MPP, Natyshak said the most important thing is to not focus on getting in the spotlight, media attention, or social media followers. “I think the most important thing is to be accessible in your community. Anyone can watch a video of a politician or a talking head spouting off points of view, but if you are not able to actually hear the other side, hear people in your community and what their points are, then there is no way you are going to be able to have a clear perspective on the issues,” he said.  

  Natyshak said if he is not fighting for something for other people or trying to do something that is going to help other people, then he believes he is probably in the wrong job. Moving forward, he is not sure what the future will hold exactly, but “I know for sure, my next role, whatever it be, will have that aspect in it.”

  Once officially off the job in June, Natyshak said he plans to reconnect with family, and possibly work with his wife, Jenny, in some capacity.

  “She is the love of my life, a brilliant woman, and an incredible business woman in her own right. She has some amazing skills and I would love to learn from working with her,” he said. “At some point that is a dream for us.”

  He stated Provincial NDP Leader, Andrea Horwath, has been a mentor, a leader, and a friend. He also thanked his family, friends, and staff at his constituency office for their support.

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