For 21 years, Terry Flynn was a household name around Niagara-on-the-Lake.
He’s been a councillor and deputy lord mayor and now Flynn, 58, has set his sights on Queen's Park.
Flynn made up his mind to run in the provincial election after he received not one, but two calls from the Ontario Liberal Party asking him to consider representing the party.
“When they come knocking on your door twice in six months, maybe you want to heed that advice,” Flynn said in an interview on Tuesday.
It may appear unorthodox to NOTLers that Flynn is not running for the Niagara Falls electoral district, which includes NOTL, but Flynn says he was originally asked to run there by the Liberals last year.
“However, the timing was just horrible at Christmas to go through a candidate nomination process,” he said.
A longstanding commitment to the NOTL community actually had a part to play in Flynn’s rejection of the Niagara Falls ballot.
“I still do the Christmas tree sale in Virgil every year for the Lions Club,” he said.
“I know it sounds dumb, but that’s a committment I’ve made for 25 years. I take three weeks off work every year. I sell Christmas trees.”
Flynn said he is a strong supporter of Ashley Waters, the Liberal candidate for Niagara Falls riding.
“She’s energetic. She does her homework. Let her have it,” he said.
When initially asked, Flynn was also in the middle of hiring 40 new paramedics for Niagara Emergency Medical Services.
“It was the largest intake we’ve taken — ever.”
As a longtime small town councillor and employee of Niagara Emergency Medical Services, Flynn said he is in a position to truly fight for his constituents instead of playing politics.
“I will be there to have their backs, that’s my approach,” he said.
Flynn had no issues with criticizing the so-called Freedom Convoys and the damage they have done to the symbolism of the Canadian flag.
“I believe strongly that the flag’s got a bad rap now,” he said.
“If I had my way, I would give a flag to every resident in the Niagara Centre riding by July 1, so that we could bring the true meaning of the Canadian flag back.”
“If I could get $100,000 tomorrow I would drop off a Canadian flag at everybody’s house and if you need help putting it on your front post, I’ll do it.”
Flynn is critical of Premier Doug Ford's willingness to sacrifice human lives to COVID-19 in order to further his political ambitions.
“Doug Ford deciding it was more important for the election and to let his guard down slightly with COVID … it’s not gone away and people are hurting,” he said.
Flynn added he understands the desire to be rid of the restrictions.
“When I was able to go into a restaurant and take my mask off, it felt amazing. But it’s all a little too early and I’m seeing the numbers rise,” he said.
Flynn knows this first-hand as he is the superintendent of operations at Niagara EMS.
“Our call volume is going through the roof. Our medics are stressed. The nurses are stressed. Front-line workers are all stressed,” he said.
He promised to work tirelessly to revamp the health care system and introduce better practices to support front-line workers.
One of the main stressors on health care is coming from the long-term care sector, he said.
“One thing I’ve always said is we built all the classrooms and the desks for the baby boomers. Now we need to turn the desks into beds,” he said.
The lack of out-of-hospital and home care resulted in hospitals being swamped with patients throughout the pandemic, he said.
“You can only take so much abuse and you can only work short-staffed for so long before you burn out the other staff.”
Ontario needs a better ratio of health care workers to patients and that people must always have access to an in-person nurse or physician to help them navigate the system, he said.
Flynn lives in Niagara Centre riding but plans to move back to St. Davids in the future.
“When I’m elected, I’m elected to represent everybody,” he said.
“I’m not going to forget about Niagara-on-the-Lake, no way. I’m not going to forget about Niagara Falls. When I’m elected I want to be a voice for everybody.”