Editor’s Note: The Journal is profiling the four candidates competing to be the next federal Member of Parliament for Sarnia-Lambton. This is the second in a four-part series appearing daily this week.
Jason McMichael worked as a golf pro after graduating from the University of Windsor.
It was at Huron Oaks in Bright’s Grove, the course on which Canadian golf legend and noted left-hander Mike Weir honed his skills.
“I was never a great player, but I was good enough to be a teaching pro,” recalled McMichael, the NDP candidate in Sarnia-Lambton.
“I used to play with Mike fairly regularly. He would play right-handed, but I had to let him putt left-handed. That tells you something of what he could do.”
The Bright’s Grove resident traded his clubs for a job as a Canada Border Services officer at the Blue Water Bridge 15 years ago. In 2008, he became national vice-president of the Customs and Immigration Union, a position that has meant spending up to 100 nights a year in Ottawa.
McMichael and his spouse have a combined family of four children- three girls and a boy ages 9, 11, 12 and 14 – so his decision to run came only after considerable consultation with them.
“Ultimately it was my children, and the thought that they could be the first generation in Canadian history not to be as well off as their parent,” he said.
McMichael is the grandson of the late Harvey McMichael, who lit up his Oak Street home with a brilliant display at Christmas and was the inspiration for Sarnia’s annual Celebration of Lights.
McMichael, who grow up on Hemlock Street, would often watch the nightly crowds arrive from a neighbour’s home.
“I would sit on a flowered chair in the front window, and I remember leaning over the back of the chair and watching in awe as the cars went by. It played a huge role in my childhood,” he said.
As a candidate campaigning door-to-door, half a dozen times a day someone will mention his grandparents, he said.
“They were real pillars in the community. Harvey got all the attention as “Mr. Christmas” but many have said how lovely my grandmother Dorothy was … that’s been really touching for me.”
Sarnia’s Labour Day parade was divisive this year after the Sarnia and District Labour Council “uninvited” MPP Bob Bailey to participate because he’s a Conservative.
McMichael, who is a vice-president on the council, said as a political candidate he abstained from voting. But he didn’t agree with the decision.
“There may be a time when you uninvite someone, if there has been a drastic change,” he said. “But everyone knows Mr. Bailey’s stance on labour. He was part of (former Ontario Conservative Leader) Tim Hudak’s team. That hadn’t changed, and I don’t think we should have invited him and uninvited him.
McMichael serves on the Bluewater Health Foundation board, volunteers with Lambton County Developmental Services and is an avid member of Bluewater Anglers.
In fact, when he has free time, he is often found fishing with his children for walleye or salmon in their boat or visiting the ponds at Twin Lakes.
“We’re blessed with the lake and river and incredibly clean, clear waters here,” he said. “I would normally fish as much as I can all summer long.”
McMichael said he threw his hat in the political ring because he believes Sarnia has been left behind.
“I feel I could be a strong voice in Ottawa. Rather than bringing Ottawa’s voice here, we need to bring Sarnia’s voice to Ottawa.