With the federal general election careening towards an exciting close, I sometimes loose sight of the fact we’re well into an another election year here in Ontario, with only a little more than five months to election day. For many Ontario ridings, as soon as the federal scene is settled, nomination meetings will be held and candidates will enter the pre-campaign phase of their contest for a seat at Queen’s Park. This is no less true here in Burlington, Ontario.
The Burlington provincial seat, in one form or another, has been held by the PC party since 1943, and any strong PC candidate should be the odds-on favourite to win the seat on October 6, notwithstanding the obvious changes in Burlington’s demographics.
At this point, we are waiting to see who will replace the retiring PC MPP, Joyce Savoline, and join Tim Hudak’s team. He/she will have big boots to fill for this riding has had some excellent representation, including that by Cam Jackson, who was elected in 1985 as Burlington’s PC MPP and served for six terms. Cam was well known for his hard work and for being an advocate for seniors and a champion for victim’s rights, including the protection of women and children from violence. Big boots indeed.
A potential candidate, Brad Reaume, senior adviser to Halton Progressive Conservative MPP Ted Chudleigh, has withdrawn his name from the nomination. Mr. Reaume contested Ms. Savoline’s by-election nomination in 2007. He made a well-received speech at that nomination meeting, and some Burlington PC Riding Association members are disappointed and expressed concern he may have been pressured to withdraw by those who oversee candidate selection/approval. I sent an e-mail to Mr. Reaume some time ago asking for his comments, but never received a reply.
That leaves only two official candidates for the PC nomination, at least, as far as I know.
René Papin, a former president of the Burlington PC Riding Association is running. 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 gave my positive views of Mr. Papin in and earlier article, so won’t repeat myself here.
The second, and only, known candidate is local lawyer Brian Heagle, a former Burlington citizen of the year. You can read my views of Mr. Heagle, here, so suffice it to say I was impressed with the man after meeting him over a cup of coffee and chatting for about two hours.
I’m surprised that only two candidates have emerged, I expected three or more, but as I expressed earlier, these two candidates seem very able, which augurs well for the recovery of the political health of the conservative cause in Burlington. Progressive on the social side; conservative on the fiscal side—both sound a lot like Bill Davis’s Progressive Conservatives.
I don’t usually cover gossip here, but misleading information can be quite harmful to a candidate’s cause, so I decided to write about it.
My wife reported a recent conversation attributed to a prominent Burlington PC. Bemoaning the lack of choice for the nomination, she complained there’s no one to vote for. She elaborated by saying that she would not consider Brian Heagle because he was once the president of the Liberal riding association. I knew Mr. Heagle had entertained the idea of running for the Liberals in a past election, and I assumed he had probably been a member of that party—but its president? I didn’t think so, but decided to check.
So I e-mailed Mr. Heagle and asked the following:
“There is a rumor I picked up today that you were once the president of a Liberal riding association.”
Mr. Heagle’s response was an unequivocal: “No, I have never been the President of a Liberal riding association.” Couldn’t be clearer than that.
Back in the 1960’s and very early 1970s, I myself voted Liberal a number of times and was briefly a member of the federal Liberal Party—I was even pleased to vote for Pierre Elliott Trudeau (just once, I’m not that stupid). So I understand what it’s like for a young man to explore the available political options. Such explorations, of themselves, should not disqualify anyone from representing the party of his choice and be considered a real conservative or PC. In my view Mr. Heagle is both.
Here’s how Mr. Heagle so aptly put it:
“To be clearer, I have voted for and supported conservatives and been a member of conservative parties … at both the Federal and Provincial levels for virtually my entire adult life. A few years ago, I was approached and swayed like many others to look at the Provincial Liberals. …
“They seemed to embrace a lot of my own principles and values. However, the operative word is “seemed”. I eventually realized the alignment was definitely not there. Life is rarely about following a perfectly straight path. It is about constant learning along the journey, especially when you take a wrong turn! I learned a lot. As a result, my commitment to and appreciation of the PCs has grown much, much stronger.”
Sounds pretty convincing to me. Now, let’s go get Dalton McGuinty and his band of rascals.