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ONE ON ONE: Dan Muys on federal politics, reaching Canada's potential and coming home

Flamborough MP says the Canadian dream is no longer attainable - but it doesn't have to be this way
MP Dan Muys spoke with FlamboroughToday during Family Week break last week.

As part of our official launch, FlamboroughToday asked local politicians to join us for in-depth conversations about the big issues facing the community. Last week, we caught up with MP Dan Muys, who talked about the challenges and rewards of serving as Flamborough’s federal representative, the huge opportunities he sees all around us, and getting out of “the Ottawa bubble” as often as he can.

Everywhere he looks, Dan Muys sees potential. 

The Flamborough MP, on a break last  week from his duties in Ottawa, used the word often as he talked about natural resources, transportation infrastructure and quality of life in the region and country he calls home.

“We have everything the world wants,” he said, pointing to liquified natural gas (LNG), lithium and other minerals required for the production of EV batteries, Bruce Power and a strong nuclear supply chain, a healthy car part manufacturing sector throughout the GTA, and more. 

“Here we are in Canada … who wouldn’t want to be situated next to the world's largest consumer market, the world's largest economy? Plus we’ve got smart people in the tech triangle in Waterloo. We've got all this potential.”

The Conservative MP says the current government  is “stymying” the realization of all this potential with high taxes, high regulation and an unpredictable regulatory environment. “We haven’t unleashed that potential; we’ve strangled it.”

Copetown roots

Muys, who grew up in Copetown and still lives in the rural area with his wife Tracy, made the jump from the private sector to politics in 2020. He previously worked in marketing and communications in several industries, primarily in agriculture, agri-food and energy. 

While he says it was  never his intention to run for elected office, he has long been involved in politics, starting as a volunteer on Geoff Scott’s (MP for Hamilton-Wentworth) campaign in the 1980s, when he was just a teenager. He has worked on Parliament HIll and at Queen’s Park, and has led campaigns for local MPPs and MPs - including his predecessor, David Sweet.

After some convincing from his wife, Muys decided to run for the seat, knowing it would be a 24/7, 365 days a year job. His motivation is rooted in his own family history and the changes he wants to see to the current state of the county.

“My Omas and Opas came from the Netherlands in the ‘50s after the war from Holland and they built a life for their kids and grandkids,” he said, noting life in Canada has been a dream for many immigrants for generations. “People came to Canada from everywhere around the world with nothing in their pockets. And if you worked hard you could dream big. 

“It didn't really matter where you were coming from, but  where you were going to.”

Muys says the solid, middle-class life his parents created - his mom was a nurse, his dad was a bricklayer - was also something he and his three brothers were able to strive for. “You could save up, buy a house and start a life.”

However, that dream is no longer attainable, he says. “That's what drives me, is the fact that people can’t do that anymore. And I hear that every day. You see it here in Flamborough, in  Waterdown.”

Making life affordable again

With the average mortgage rising from about $1,400 to over $3,500 over the past 10 years, and rent increasing during that time from about $900 per month to around $2,000 combined with the rising costs of groceries, gas, and more, Muys says he’s hearing from frustrated constituents - both recent immigrants and people who grew up in the area.

He points to government spending, taxes and policies as the culprit. “It's out of control. And it doesn't, in my view, have to be this way in Canada.”

Muys sees opportunities to improve private sector growth, provide alternative housing options and densification, improve business investment and private sector growth in Canada, and tackle the macroeconomic issues that are driving up interest rates.

“We're never going to be able to address the affordability issue unless there are those changes,” he says. “Life’s got to be affordable.”

Muys says his first term has been “a bit of a rollercoaster” as he took office during the pandemic. He intends to run in the next election, and is busy familiarizing himself with the new riding configuration, which will see his constituency shift slightly to include St. George and Paris in Brant County.

Tackling local issues

When it comes to local issues he can tackle, Muys says auto thefts and rural internet connectivity are high on his list. 

He delivered an order paper question during the fall sitting of Parliament to determine the number of containers being scanned at the Port of Montreal; he suggests purchasing enough technology to scan every container leaving from Canada’s four ports will stem the flow of stolen vehicles. In addition, he wants to see mandatory minimum sentences for those convicted of auto theft.

Muys has been meeting with Hamilton councillors and the mayor to address the poor rural internet that impacts part of his riding. He noted that Hamilton seemed to be overlooked in the $4-billion federal and provincial Universal Broadband Fund that upgraded service in Southwestern Ontario, and while he was happy to see an investment announcement made at Dyment's Farm last August there is more work to do.

“I’ll keep beating that drum,” he says. “Internet is not a luxury any more.”

Muys was set to return to Ottawa this week, where he enjoys the work and seeing his colleagues across the floor and  in the hallways at Parliament. But he always makes a point to come home on weekends (despite a five-hour commute) to be with family, help around the house and reconnect with his constituents.

“Part of coming home is to get grounded,” he says. “And just talking to real people. I mean, that's why I went out and knocked on doors, and I've done that in every by-election that we've had. I’ll go  talk to real people and hear the real concerns, rather than the ‘Ottawa bubble.’”

And Flamborough, he says, is the place he most likes to be.

“I'm biased. I've lived there most of my life. I've lived elsewhere, but I'm always reminded when I come back,” he says. “I mean, we've got the Niagara Escarpment,  the Royal Botanical Gardens, where I  served on the Board of Directors. We've got  this beautiful place to live.”


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Brenda Jefferies

About the Author: Brenda Jefferies

Brenda Jefferies is Editor of FlamboroughToday. Brenda’s work has been recognized at the provincial, national and international levels, with awards for local sports, headline and editorial writing
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