Anne Marie Gillis has never been afraid to wave the Liberal banner, regardless of public approval ratings at any given time.
Aware that the provincial Grits have taken a hit in popularity leading up to the June 12 election, the veteran politician said she would rather be part of the solution, than part of any ongoing problems.
“Because I am known as a Liberal, you have to show your colours. You can’t pretend that you’re not (a Liberal) and you have to get in there and make a difference and turn the ship around.”
Though the party is facing an uphill struggle on integrity, taking a survivalist approach, as some Liberals are doing, is not the answer, she said.
“You have to put up or shut up.”
The Liberals finished third in Sarnia-Lambton in the last election, behind the Conservatives and NDP. Voters were upset at the time over decisions by Premier Dalton McGuinty to close the Sarnia Jail and the Lambton Generating Station.
But, Gillis, 59, is confident Kathleen Wynne can lead the provincial Liberals back to where they want to be.
“I know her track record (as an MPP and cabinet minister) and I know what she can do,” said Gillis. “She recognizes problems and fixes them.”
Gillis grew up in a pro-Conservative home in Saint John, New Brunswick before moving to Sault Ste. Marie and then Sarnia. The long-time city/council councillor and former Catholic school board trustee saw her personal political views formed during the Pierre Trudeau era in the late 1960’s.
“It was a huge social revolution at the time. It seemed like the whole world was changing in its social perspectives,” she said. “It must have been very difficult for my parents, because the things they had fought for and sacrificed for were now considered taboo.”
She says it is the responsibility of government to be trustworthy, fiscally responsible and socially progressive, noting in particular the need for quality child care, accessibility, and help for aging parents to deal with aging children they can no longer care for.
With her three children grown and gone from the family home, Gillis feels she has the time and energy to devote to being an effective, responsible MPP. She proudly admits that when she’s around her children she is simply known as “mom.”
And regardless of what happens at the polls on election night, Gillis and her husband will take time to celebrate. June 12 just happens to be their 38th wedding anniversary.
Name: Anne Marie Gillis
Party: Liberal Party
Occupation: Retired Registered Nurse
Previous elections: Five (won three municipal elections and lost one; won one trustee election)
Marital status: Married to Blair; celebrating 38th anniversary on June 12
Most important issue: Energy and the economy
– Barry Wright