I see that Ontario PC leader Tim Hudak has opened his campaign headquarters and begun his party’s “200-Day Countdown” to the October 6 general election, so I guess it’s time to pay closer attention to provincial and local politics. With luck, we can put the PCs back in charge at Queen’s Park so they can begin to clean-up the hash Dalton McGuinty and his sloppy team have made of our province’s economy and finances.
Closer to home is the campaign that will see a new MPP represent the Burlington, Ontario riding now that PC incumbent, Joyce Savoline, has made official her intention to retire from provincial politics. Ms. Savoline has held the Burlington seat for the PCs since early 2007. As hinted at in this space back in March 2009, I suspected Ms. Savoline would not contest this upcoming election. My suspicion was aroused by her inactivity at the riding level and seeming unconcern regarding development of a strong, active riding association so critical to success in any general election.
At this point, who will replace Ms. Savoline is an open question. With the PCs generally ahead in the polls, a solid Tory candidate stands more than a fighting chance to keep the seat for the PCs for another four years—the Burlington seat, in one form or another, has been held by the PC party since 1943.
To this point there seems to be three credible contenders and perhaps a fourth still to declare one way or the other. Back in February, The Hamilton Spectator ran an article about a possible comeback by former MPP and mayor, Cam Jackson, who held the seat from 1985 to 2006. I doubt that’ll happen, though one can never tell.
Lawyer Brian Heagle, a former Burlington citizen of the year and unsuccessful candidate for Burlington’s city council, is apparently considering a run at the PC nomination. It seems well known that Heagle considered running for the provincial Liberals in 2007, and although he’s apparently said he has always voted Conservative and is more comfortable with the Tory brand and values, I doubt he’d win the nomination unless he signed up a large enough number of new party members to completely change the character of the riding association. I don’t believe the current PC membership is very impressed with Heagle’s flirting with the Liberals.
Brad Reaume, senior adviser to Halton Progressive Conservative MPP Ted Chudleigh, is also said to be considering the nomination. Mr. Reaume contested Ms. Savoline’s by-election nomination in 2007. He made a well-received speech at that nomination meeting—probably the best of the evening—but he’s a former journalist and that was expected. I can’t see that he’s done anything much in the riding before or since. Burlington riding association members seem to prefer candidates who’ve been active in riding politics or association affairs and who have made an effort to get to know riding association members on a personal basis. Mr. Reaume seems to fail this test.
René Papin, a former president of the Burlington PC riding association, has declared his intention to seek the nomination regardless of who else decides to run. A Benefit Consultant/Sale Executive at Dan Lawrie Insurance Brokers Ltd, Mr. Papin’s family has lived in Burlington since the 1960s so his roots go deep in the community.
I had the opportunity to chat with Mr. Papin recently over a cup of coffee. He’s a family man, with several years of business experience since graduating from University of Toronto in 1983. He’s run his own business and describes himself as a Bill Davis-conservative—not a bad thing to be, by the way. He told me he’s a fiscal conservative, but sees himself as a progressive on many social issues. My guess is Mr. Papin’s more to the centre than I am, but seems to fit the traditional Progressive Conservative mold pretty well.
At this stage, I’d give the nomination to René Papin—I’d even vote for him myself.