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MP's views doesn't represent who we are

 Staff

Sometimes, a small gesture can have a big impact.

 

Three weeks ago, Avening resident Mark Ruzylo decided he had to do something to express his opposition to what he saw as the polarizing message of Simcoe-Grey MP Kellie Leitch.

“When Kellie Leitch congratulated Donald Trump on his win in the U.S. election, I just couldn’t believe it.” said Ruzylo. “Her divisive message was so contrary to the way we all live together in this community.”

So, he printed some signs with the hashtag #NOTMYMP and asked his friends if they would like to put them on their lawns.

Since then, his simple protest has mushroomed into a grassroots movement that has received national media attention.

“I started with 10 signs, then printed 60 more, and now I have 200 that we plan to distribute this weekend,” said Ruzylo.

He has been interviewed on national TV news, and the campaign has been the subject of a Maclean’s article. “The NOTMYMP hashtag has been picked up by people all over the country.” Ruzylo said. “I’ve received hundreds of tweets and messages from people as far away as B.C. and Newfoundland.”

Members of the community are also chipping in to help spread the message. Brent Preston was one of the first to put up a sign, at the end of the lane on his farm near Dunedin.

“The amazing thing about our community is how diverse and accepting and supportive it is,” said Preston. “It didn’t seem right to me that our elected representative was spreading such an angry and mean-spirited message to the rest of Canada. I was embarrassed.”

The #NOTMYMP movement is non-partisan and informal. “We don’t have an organizing committee or any kind of hierarchy,” explained Preston. “We have Liberals and Greens and NDPers and even some Conservatives. Everyone is welcome.”

What unifies the group is a vision of a united and tolerant community and country, he said.

“I am the son of a refugee.” said Ruzylo. “My dad was born in a camp for displaced persons after the Second World War. We are proud Canadians and proud Ukrainians, too. That’s why Kellie Leitch’s suggestion that we need to screen immigrants for anti-Canadian values is so offensive.”

Ruzylo is the father of three and is vice-principal at Collingwood Collegiate Institute. He said working in local schools has shown him how communities rally around kids and around each other. “My experience tells me that we are generous, accepting, inviting, kind and hard-working – that’s why Leitch’s political discourse does not reflect my reality.”

#NOTMYMP lawn signs will be available this Saturday, Dec. 10, at the Avening Community Centre from 9:30 to 11:00 a.m., and at the municipal parking lot at Pine and Second streets in Collingwood from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Signs cost $10. 



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