Photo: Mohamed Omar

Lunch with a side of politics

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With little more than a week until the election, Arts & Life Editor Allyssia Alleyne sits down with the final candidate, Toronto-Centre Progressive Conservative candidate Martin Abell

AA: Is this your first time at Ryerson?

MA: I used to come here as a kid because my mom was a mature student.

AA: Which program was she taking?

MA: Interior design, I think it was. We used to come down and accompany her sometimes, either to pick up, drop off or sit quietly while she attended to projects and things like that. This would have been back in the ‘70s. [Ryerson] has transformed since then.

AA: Definitely. What’s the biggest change you’ve noticed?

MA: It’s got much more curb appeal and street presence. It’s much more pedestrian friendly.

AA: Where’d you go to school?

MA: I went to the University of British Columbia. It had the program I wanted and the sports I wanted.

AA: What program did you want?

MA: Agriculture.

AA: How come?

MA: I worked a lot of summers in high school — all my summers in high school basically — on farms, so that got me interested.

AA: And the sports? Were you a jock?

MA: Yeah, I was a bit. Major in rugby, minor in skiing.

AA: And after grad?

MA: I travelled in southern Africa. I hitchhiked and bused to get around. I did a bit of a walkabout for six months, and then I came back to Toronto to work.

AA: In what ways are you involved in the community?

MA: I’ve been involved with volunteer work at the Nature Conservancy of Canada and also Out of the Cold, which is a winter months program where we provide meals and overnight accommodation for guests that are from the homeless population. That sort of work agitated me to get further involved.

AA: What is the Ontario PC offering to students?

MA: We’re going to push for more spaces in post-secondary education, to commit to get more people into skills training and apprenticeship programs and we want to make [post-secondary education] more accessible to more families by raising the threshold around access to OSAP.

AA: Raised by how much?

MA: We don’t have a number, but we’re going to raise it.

AA: Why the focus on small businesses and job creation?

MA: If you get up and working, that [student] debt load will be manageable, but if you’re stuck for two years in part-time jobs, it puts a lot of stress on young people when they should be focusing on getting a good job and enjoying themselves before they get hunkered down with a lot of kids.

AA: Does the party have any plans specifically for Ryerson?

MA: Not specific to Ryerson. We don’t want to be playing favourites.

AA: What are some of your favourite bars?

MA: I like the Pilot. It’s at Yonge and Cumberland, just behind Holt Renfrew. I also like The Rebel House, Bar Volo which is further down Yonge at the corner of … I always walk there, so I don’t know the intersection. Near Wellesley.

AA: What sets Toronto Centre apart from other ridings in the city?

MA: It’s the diversity. It’s a wonderful mix of people, architecture and different neighbourhoods.

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