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Alliance Party announces 18-year-old Robert Van Ryswyck as Oxford candidate in upcoming election

By Chris Funston, Woodstock Sentinel-Review

18-year-old Robert Van Ryswyck is representing the Alliance Party of Ontario in Oxford in this June's election. (Submitted)

18-year-old Robert Van Ryswyck is representing the Alliance Party of Ontario in Oxford in this June's election. (Submitted)

WOODSTOCK - 

Experienced or not, Robert Van Ryswyck has a passion for politics.

The 18 -year-old from Woodstock is running on behalf of the Alliance Party of Ontario in June’s provincial election.

Van Ryswyck is currently wrapping up his first year at Wilfred Laurier University in Waterloo where he is studying political science.

His interest in politics began five years ago, when he started high school. After following the news, he found himself disgusted by how society was moving further away from what it once was.

“I saw a lot of anti-church things and, as a staunch Christian, I was pretty annoyed,” he said. “I felt that my views and everything I stood for were being trampled on by society as we moved forward. I realized the only way to stop it or let my voice be heard is through politics.”

He now finds himself honoured to be the alliance party’s first-ever candidate in Oxford, and he couldn’t be more proud.

Despite having little experience in the political arena, Van Ryswyck sees it as an advantage. To him, a lack of experience in today’s political sphere is equated to being uncorrupt. He says his passion and interest for the cause qualifies him for the position and that 18-year-olds are allowed to run for a reason.

“I don’t think that youth is a bad idea ... to prove that we are an honest and integral option,” said Van Ryswyck.

With education always being an issue for the province, he believes the best people to offer solutions are those who are experiencing it.

“There’s a lot of people who don’t have trust in our politicians anymore and it’s for good reason. We’ve seen a lot of scandals in the past years, and that’s part in why the Ontario Alliance was created,” he said.

The Alliance was founded in November 2017 by former members of the Ontario Progressive Conservative party who were disaffected with then-leader Patrick Brown. The socially conservative and right-wing populist political party is led by Jay Tysick, a former PC member who was allegedly denied the Carleton riding nomination because of his views.

The party has a seven-point platform heading into the election. It calls for a balanced budget, reduced taxes, more municipal powers, increased privatization of health-care provisions, and implementing legislation that allowed for the recall of MPPs and citizen-initiated referenda. They also oppose the Liberal government’s carbon tax and look to repeal the new sex-ed curriculum.

A public office, Van Ryswyck said, should be open to anyone – the key word for Van Ryswyck being public.

“The idea is not to have a sort of elite, career politician who’s been in it for years to continue running a country the way they want. the idea is for the people to run the country, so they pick who’s best to represent them.

“I think anyone who’s willing to do what the people of Oxford want is qualified.”

Since 1995, Progressive Conservative Ernie Hardeman has held the Oxford seat. To change the minds of voters this June, Van Ryswyck explained that residents need to examine his voting record, which he said was not up to par, especially on some socially conservative values.

“It’s unfortunate, and it seems like we’ve been betrayed by Ernie on a lot of those. He supports bills against free speech, he’s supported anti-family and anti-natural family laws and that is not what we want. I think it’s just gone past our attention.”

For more information on the Ontario Alliance party, visit ontario-alliance.ca.