In the eyes of local Progressive Conservative candidate Peter McSherry, a win typically means everyone is satisfied.
The employment and disability rights lawyer believes the best outcomes flow from working in a bipartisan way and understanding the perspective of the other side or sides – a personality trait he feels would work well at Queen’s Park.
“Quite frankly, I believe that I work really hard to try to help both parties in a situation win, trying hard to make sure that my people, whoever I'm helping, comes out with the best possible solution they can get,” he said. “I've come to conclude and learned very early on in life that you never get that from crushing the other guy. The other guy has to have a win, too.
“More often than not, there's a mutual gain outcome.”
That can mean looking at issues from different angles and perspectives, checking out a variety of news coverage in order to build a more complete picture of the issue.
McSherry was born in Glasgow, Scotland. His family – mother, father and younger brother, along with sister in the womb – moved to Canada when he was five, settling first in Sarnia and then in Kingston, where he went on to complete law school.
After graduation, McSherry explained he moved to Toronto and worked for a law firm there before deciding to join with a former classmate to share space in Guelph and open up his own practice, specializing in employment law and disability rights.
Asked why he chose Guelph as the location, the MPP-hopeful explained there were a number of factors, including it being a central location for visiting his parents as well as his wife’s parents, other in-laws lived nearby and Guelph was growing.
“And at that point, I didn't feel that the Toronto practice was for me. I wanted to live in a community that at that time would be about 100,000 people where you would be involved in other things. Guelph was very appealing because you're sort of close enough to Toronto to enjoy the Toronto things, but it has its own vibe, and a lot of things happen here,” McSherry said. “Having a university in town, you get a lot more cultural diversity than you do in a town that's a similar size without that.”
Though he set up his practice in Guelph, McSherry opted to settle his family – wife Leanne and their daughter, Gwen, now 11 – in Cambridge, where they have lived since 2007.
McSherry has been a member of Kiwanis Club of Guelph and Rotary Club of Guelph, and is one of two provincial appointees on the Guelph Police Service board – a position he’s held since the spring of 2020, though he’s planning to take a leave of absence during the election.
He was acclaimed as the local PC candidate in August of last year.
Entering the political realm has long been in McSherry’s plan.
“I think it really sort of stems from an interest in serving people,” the candidate said, noting he remembers his father taking him as a young child to meet Joe Clark when he visited Sarnia.
“And then I think my first experience as a political campaigner was working for (Kingston MPP) Keith Norton when he was running for re-election the last time in '85, and I just sort of got the bug as a high school student.”
McSherry said he “strongly admires” politicians such as former U.S. presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. Bush, as well as former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and current Ontario Premier Doug Ford for their ability to lead through “adverse circumstances” – creation of the North America Free Trade Agreement and the COVID-19 pandemic for the latter two.
“They've managed to make decisions that have worked for the best interest of all people at all levels. They haven't preferred one group over another,” he said, later noting his admiration for Nelson Mandela, the South African jailed anti-apartheid revolutionary who served as the country’s first democratically elected president after his release.
“It’s because of the suffering he endured and the goodwill and humour, the gentleness with which he governed afterward.”