In a stunning announcement, local lawyer and 2009 Citizen of the Year, Brian Heagle formally withdrew from the Burlington Progressive Conservative (PC) nomination race today. For his media release, Mr. Heagle said:
“When I stepped forward as a candidate earlier this year, and after Rene Papin withdrew from the race in early May, I never expected the nomination process would still be going on nine weeks later in July.”
To date, a nomination meeting has yet to be scheduled by the Burlington PC Riding Association executive—or, if it has, it’s a closely guarded secret. Though, one can never know for sure with that group. Their Internet home page still features an invitation to a reception (fundraiser) held on May 24. Only about three months before the general election, and an old ad for a fundraiser held one and a half months ago is the best they can do on their website.
Mr. Heagle obviously wanted to represent Burlington PCs, but couldn’t wait indefinitely for a nomination meeting that could have been held several weeks ago. One can sense his disappointment when he says:
“I would love the privilege and opportunity to be the Ontario PC Party candidate and represent Burlington as its next MPP. Regrettably, timing and circumstances have changed.
“I have to make firm commitments now to my family, partners and clients which no longer fit with this political process, including the short lead up to the October 6 election.”
In my view, Mr. Heagle has been treated shabbily by the Burlington PC Riding Association and/or by the executive of the PC Party of Ontario. He entered the nomination race as one of two approved candidates in March 2011—that’s over three months ago. Sure, the federal election did delay things, but that vote took place May 2, some six weeks ago.
Mr. Heagle’s is the third withdrawal from the nomination race. What’s going on and why have two previously approved candidates withdrawn from the race? René Papin, a former president of the riding association was an approved candidate but withdrew some week ago, saying:
“I have been advised that my candidacy, at this time, does not fit the strategic direction of the party, and that it would be in the best interests of the party if I were to withdraw.”
Will the Burlington PC Riding Association’s board of directors or the PC Party executive continue to delay holding a nomination meeting until someone of their choosing puts their name up?
This sort of thing sours many old-time PC supporters who have helped keep Burlington riding Tory-blue for decades. Continued behind-the-scenes maneuvering might just be enough to keep us at home on October 6. Just saying.
I met Brian Heagle for the first time after he announced he’d be running for the nomination. I took and instant liking for the man—he came across as sincere, personable and capable. It’s just too darn bad he never got a chance to showcase himself to the voters of Burlington—I think he would have won.
Good luck with future endeavors, Brian.