This 19-year-old from Toronto could be Ontario's youngest political candidate
Provincial election season has arrived, and as political lawn signs appear across Ontario, residents in Toronto's Eglinton-Lawrence riding are seeing a fresh young face, possibly the youngest on the ballot for the province in 2022.
A globalization studies student at Huron University College with plans to attend Western's Ivey Business School in September, Sam Kaplun looks like your typical 19-year-old, but he's setting his aspirations far higher than the norm for his age.
Kaplun is gunning to be elected a Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) this June, running as an independent candidate in a riding known as a Liberal-PC battleground.
I am running as an independent candidate in Eglinton—Lawrence in the provincial election on June 2nd. #onpoli🧵— Sam Kaplun (@SamKaplun) April 10, 2022
He's been active in politics for a couple of years now, telling blogTO that "what I've learned trying to engage in partisan politics, is that the way that our political system works, the institutions that make up our society, our governments, our businesses, the way the economy is run, it's all tailored in such a way that the vast majority of people cannot meaningfully participate in it."
"I think that in order to truly agitate for change, there needs to be people coming together on the grassroots level on the ground, and organizing for the changes that they need themselves without necessarily waiting for the government to do it for that."
Kaplun is running on a broad platform of equality, with specific campaigns including housing for all, climate action, improved public transit, doubling Ontario Disability Support Program, increasing public education funding, and electoral reform.
This platform sounds a whole lot like the NDP's, but there's a pretty good explanation for that.
Kaplun explains that "I was initially intending to run as the NDP candidate for this riding. I was a member of the NDP for the past two years. In fact, that's where I got my start in politics: volunteering for our local NDP candidate Alexandra Nash."
"And it was actually Alex that inspired me. At the time, I think they were 20, maybe 21. It hadn't even clicked for me before that young people could and should run for elected office."
In December 2021, Kaplun was acclaimed as the president of the local NDP riding association, a stepping stone to his plans to become a full-fledged candidate for the party.
But it wouldn't quite pan out that way.
"Between June of last year in March of this year, I was hoping to seek the NDP nomination in this riding," says Kaplun, who informed the party and claims to have followed up with them 14 times over the course of those eight months seeking an update on his vetting.
While he was waiting, Kaplun claims to have continued to campaign and canvass for the NDP party, knocking on around 2,000 doors between November and January, which he says represents about three-quarters of all doors the party knocked on in the Eglinton-Lawrence riding during that time.
"In March is when I finally found out that I failed the party's vetting process. Precisely, the words that were used were 'my social media comportment.'"
"I'm sure there were several instances of things that I'd said on social media that were perhaps provocative or critical of the NDP, although, again, I will stand by anything I say on the subject, even if it's provocative."
"But I was only provided with one example, despite asking for more. And that was that in April of last year, I had liked someone else's tweet that referred to Doug Ford as a murderer."
It's a stance he defends by claiming Ford has left long-term care homes understaffed and has madwe cuts to welfare and healthcare.
blogTO discussed these claims with an NDP spokesperson and they confirm that the individual did not pass the vetting process, but would not provide a further statement on the issue.
It's official: I am on the ballot!!!— Sam Kaplun (@SamKaplun) May 4, 2022
This also means I can accept donations! Please message me if you are able and willing to donate to help me get some lawn signs and flyers printed. pic.twitter.com/PoSA5eHmq8
He will be facing PC incumbent Robin Martin, NDP candidate Natasha Doyle-Merrick, and Liberal Arlena Hebert, as well as Green candidate Leah Tysoe, New Blue Party candidate Erwin Sniedzins, and None of the Above Party (yes, that's a real thing) candidate Bryant Thompson.
If elected, Kaplun would join the ranks of the youngest MPPs ever elected in Ontario. PC MPP Sam Oosterhoff, elected at the young age of 19 back in a 2016 by-election, holds the record for the youngest Ontario MPP to ever be elected to the legislature.
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