“I can’t believe that Beaches-East York is sending you to Ottawa…that’s just crazy talk!”
Those were the recent words of Matthew Kellway’s son, Rory – a seven-year-old still trying to put together the pieces of what just happened after his dad won the recent election by over 5,000 votes.
BMN caught up with Kellway on May 14, a gloomy and rainy Saturday that most people would use to stay home reading a good book or maybe sleep in. But at 8 a.m. Kellway was in the kitchen at Neighbourhood Link with master chef Hiro Hattori cooking some mean scrambled eggs. Nearly one hundred staff were fed a healthy breakfast prior to hitting the streets for their annual outreach and canvassing in the community.
He was only glad to help out. And helping out seems to be a theme in his life.
Kellway told us a bit about his past and how he served on the board of his kids’ daycare, helping with planning and administration. He continued his involvement with his kids’ education by chairing the Parent Council at St. John Catholic School.
Kellway and his wife Donna, a crown attorney and board member at Community Centre 55, moved to the Beach in 1996 – a move prompted by the relatively low cost of housing in an area where you can walk 15-20 minutes to the waterfront.
When asked about his children, Kellway couldn’t hide his pride and joy. He told us how they were very supportive during the campaign, especially his daughters. They were “very proud and happy” for him after he had won his seat in Parliament.
He also recalled coaching his son’s lacrosse team despite the fact that he “had never picked up a lacrosse stick until they signed him up.” He pointed out that this was just another way of being involved and helping out.
The Kellway family gets involved in other community programs including helping with Community Centre 55’s Share-A- Christmas and St. Aidan’s Church’s Out of the Cold program. He emphasized the importance of having his children involved in community service and helping others.
Before his candidacy, Kellway was involved with organizations that dealt with energy and the environment. He was co-founder and co-chair of the Toronto Energy Coalition, a group of citizens that opposed the development of the Port Lands Energy Centre.
Prior to being elected he was an economist and policy analyst at the Society of Energy Professionals, a union representing employees in the electricity industry in Ontario.
As for the future, Kellway is looking forward to the May 24 NDP caucus meeting which will dictate his role in the party.
He refers to Beaches/East York as a “small city” with diverse cultures and diverse issues. “We have a large immigrant community struggling to find work and pay rent,” which, he said, is one of the challenges in the area. He believes that local urban issues are strongly related to the broader national picture. He and the NDP are hoping to help immigrants integrate as well as ease the family re-unification process.
Senior poverty is a “huge issue” according to Kellway, who sees fault in our current pension plan. As well, seniors’ healthcare continues to be a challenge across the country not only for seniors but also for caregivers such as family members.
Kellway said that “we need appropriate funding for the big cities in this country,” which would help with the seniors’ issues and also with the struggles that parents often have with accessible and affordable childcare.
Kellway is also looking forward to help break down some of the social and cultural barriers in the riding, referring to Crescent Town as an example.
“A lot of the communities within the riding aren’t intermingling culturally and socially,” he said. He wants to extend the benefits of certain communities to others. “The riding as a whole would profit from it.”
Speaking of Stephen Harper’s majority government he hopes that he “reaches out to other parties and takes others’ perspectives and interests into account.”
Some, of course, would say “that’s just crazy talk.”