Jane McKenna has entered the nomination race to become the Progressive Conservative (PC) party’s candidate for Burlington in the Oct. 6 Ontario provincial election. Ms. McKenna, an advertising executive, self-describes as “a creative consensus-builder with a proven ability to negotiate solutions.” She’ll be opposed by local lawyer Brian Heagle at a nomination meeting still to be scheduled.
This is an important choice for PC party members in Burlington, for the odds favour our party beating the Dalton McGuinty Liberals in the upcoming general election. And wouldn’t it be nice to replace retiring incumbent MPP Joyce Savoline with another PC, continuing the riding’s PC tradition for another four years.
As far as I can tell, Ms. McKenna has no previous political experience other than losing in the 2010 municipal election—she ran as a candidate for Ward 1 City Councillor against winner, Rick Craven—not unlike her rival, Brian Heagle’s, unsuccessful run for the Ward 4 seat in the same election.
Two other candidates had previously declared their intention to seek the nomination before dropping out of the race with very little explanation. This contributed to speculation the Progressive Conservative Party was “anointing” so-called star candidates and squeezing out others interested in running. Here’s a clip from the Toronto Star back in May 2011:
René Papin, a Burlington businessman, withdrew his nomination for the Tories in the riding of Burlington after being told he didn’t “fit the strategic direction of the party, and that it would be in the best interests of the party if I [Papin] were to withdraw.”
A surprising development, to be sure, since Mr. Papin was a former president of the Burlington Riding Association. In an earlier article (here), I wrote:
“For goodness sake, if a recent president of the riding association—the local face of the PC party—does ‘not fit the strategic direction of the party,’ who the heck would? Mr. Papin was a serious candidate, at least, that was the definite impression I got after I accepted his invitation a few weeks ago to have a chat over a cup of coffee. Now he’s out of the race?”
So, one is left to wonder whether Ms. McKenna’s name will stand long enough to make the yet to be scheduled nomination meeting. Which begs another question. How much longer must we wait for that nomination meeting? I was told the federal election held it up, but that was more than a month ago.
Although I have not made a final decision, I like the other candidate, Brian Heagle, and want to see him treated fairly. Had the nomination meeting been held earlier, Mr. Heagle—as the only candidate—would have been nominated. Could it be that certain influential PC riding association members still have doubts whether Mr. Heagle is Tory-blue enough for them? And could it be they’ve used their influence to delay the nomination meeting until a pure laine candidate could be found?