Writer Blair Edwards
FEBRUARY 2, 2007 - KANATA KOURIER-STANDARD - News & Community - Human rights lawyer runs for Liberal nomination in Kanata
Scott Simser knows how to make his voice heard.The 41-year-old Kanata lawyer has spent a lifetime bucking the system on behalf of people with hearing impairments.
When he enrolled inlaw school in 1993 at York University's Osgoode Hall in toronto, Simser, who has a hearing impairment, filed a human rights complaint against the law school for refusing to pay $15,000 needed to provide interpreting support. He dropped the complaint after negotiating an agreement with the school.
A few years later, Simser filed a human rights complaint against Famous Players, forcing the movie theatre company to introduce movie captioning of popular movies in 30 auditoriums.
Last year, the Katimavik man won a ruling that forces the federal government to provide all of its services in sign language without charge to people with hearing impairments were previously forced to pay for sign language interpreters.
The court accepted Simser's argument that charging a fee for a sign language interpreter was a violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Now the tax, business and human rights lawyer plans to move his battleground from the courthouse to the House of Commons, announcing he will seek the Liberal nomination for the riding of Carleton-Mississippi Mills.
"I think I can make a difference," Simser said. "I have a history of making things happen and I'd like to be able to do that in Parliament too."
Isabel Metcalfe, who ran for the Liberals in the Carleton-Mississippi Mills riding during the 2006 federal election, announced earlier this month that she is seeking the Liberal nomination in Ottawa-Centre.
Kanata Lakes' Justin MacKinnon is also campaigning for the Liberal nomination in the Carleton-Mississippi Mills riding.
Simser said he will focus on three issues during his campaign. "One is the environment," said Simser. "It's probably my most passionate concern."
As a child growing up in Kanata, Simser remembers long winters playing hockey at the Beaver Pond. "I see (the weather) changing now, and it concerns me a lot," he said.
Simser said he is also concerned about the increasing number of smog days in Ontario.
"That says something about us if we can't have clean air, clean water or clean land," Simser said. "I think we can make a difference. I believe in the Kyoto Protocol, I believe in clean air"
The second issue in Simser's platform is lowering taxes.
Simser said the government shouldn't charge GST payments on small businesses that earn less than $30,000 per year; he said businesses earning less than a certain amount of money should be made exempt from paying the employers' portion of the Canadian Pension Plan and Employment Insurance to the government.
"They're hiring people; they want to give people a job; why should they have to pay taxes on top of that?"
The third plank in Simser's platform is improving Canada's day care system by following the Liberal government's proposal in 2006 to expand the number of day care spaces across the country.
"We need more day care in Kanata," he said. "Good, affordable day care."
"I was very disappointed when the Conservatives cancelled the (Liberal) program."
The Liberals face a formidable task to defeat Conservative incumbent Gordon O'Connor, who has won a sizeable majority of the vote during the past two federal elections.
"I think Kanata has Liberal values. You just have to bring that out. You have to knock on every door in Kanata, in Stittsville and in Mississippi Mills, in Almonte and Arnprior and show them you have a plan. You have to show them you're united," he said. "I don't think there's distractions this time. Last time there was the sponsorship scandal. "This time we have a clean slate; we have a new leader, Stephane Dion, and we have a united team."
Simser anticipates a fall federal election.
As a candidate, Simser said he brings a lot to the table. "I'm a lawyer, an accountant, I have a CMA," he said.
As a lawyer, Simser has experience arguing immigration, taxes, business, human rights and criminal cases.
Simser has tax and business law experience; for three years he worked as a tax lawyer for Canada's Department of Justice. He now runs a business and tax law consulting firm in Kanata.
Simser was the first deaf adventurer to be accepted into the Outward Bound Wilderness School. He won the Queen's Jubilee Award from the government of Canada and a national award from the Canadian Council of Disabilities.
Simser grew up in Beaverbrook, attending W. Erskine Johnston, and Earl of March Secondary School.
He earned a bachelor of business administration at the University of Ottawa, an MBA at York University and a law degree at Osgoode Hall.
"I have a disability, so I understand about the situation facing people who are vulnerable, people who have disabilities, seniors, people who are low income and I sympathize with them."