Are they waiting for a dog they can tie a blue ribbon on and expect it to win? Worse things have happened in Burlington

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON June 7, 2011 – We all know there is going to be a provincial election October 6th. We all know that Joyce Savoline is going to ride off into her sunset and enjoy retirement.

We know too that Rene Papin chose to fall on his sword and withdraw as a candidate seeking the nomination from the Provincial Progressive Conservative Constituency Association and by now everyone knows that Brian Heagle is out there shaking hands and talking to anyone who even looks like a Conservative, which for Heagle is a bit of a challenge because he has so many friends who fully expected him to be the Liberal candidate in the provincial election.

He said he was interested but changed his mind and withdrew his name.  Even had signs made up

He said he was interested but changed his mind and withdrew his name. Even had signs made up

Papin really wanted the nomination but the party apparently didn’t want him and he reluctantly withdrew.

Papin really wanted the nomination but the party apparently didn’t want him and he reluctantly withdrew.

 

 

 

 

The provincial legislature has shut down until the election results come in the evening of the 6th of October and we now have the party leaders running hither and yon across the province casting aspersions on one another. Of the 103 constituencies in Ontario the Progressive Conservatives have nominated in all but 12 – Burlington, thought to be a riding that could be won by a dog with a blue ribbon tied around its neck, is one of the dozen that has not yet nominated.

Brian Heagle wants the nomination but the party isn’t at all sure they want him

Brian Heagle wants the nomination but the party isn’t at all sure they want him

The Association clearly isn’t all that keen on Heagle, who will tell you he doesn’t know why they nomination meeting hasn’t been held, but it isn’t his job to call the meeting. All Heagle wants to do is know when the event is going to be held and show up to make his pitch to the full membership.

The Progressive Conservatives don’t have all that much in the way of a campaign organization in place – so whoever wins the nomination is going to have to pull together a new team and then get out on the street.

The Premier, he being Dalton McGuinty, pulled a bit of a fast one, when he shut down the legislature a day earlier than anyone expected thus taking away the opportunity Tim Hudak, the leader of the opposition had of making any last minute statements in the legislature.

Progressive Conservatives have always done wonderfully well in Burlington provincially. George Kerr served as the provincial member from 1963 to 1985 and was followed by Can Jackson who served from 1985 to 1999. Both men left the provincial government under a bit of a cloud. Kerr for making a telephone call to a Crown Prosecutor and Jackson who was basically asked to leave the Cabinet.

Kerr had two run ins with ethical matters. During the first of the two he temporarily resigned from cabinet on February 21, 1975, after allegations that he had solicited and received money from a man involved in a harbour scandal in Hamilton. Kerr protested his innocence, but argued that he could not function as the province’s Solicitor-General while the matter was unresolved. A subsequent investigation found no grounds to warrant charges against Kerr, and he was briefly returned to cabinet before leaving again on July 18, of the same year.

Election ploys were different in ’75 (but then so were the cars) Kerr took to the waters of Burlington Bay to prove how safe they were for swimming.

Election ploys were different in ’75 (but then so were the cars) Kerr took to the waters of Burlington Bay to prove how safe they were for swimming.

He resigned a second time as Solicitor-General after he made a telephone call to an assistant crown attorney on behalf of a constituent who was facing trial for driving while his license was suspended. The call quickly became public and Kerr resigned from cabinet on Sept. 9, 1978.

Burlington was forgiving and Kerr was re-elected in the 1981 provincial election, and served as a government backbencher for the next four years. He retired from the legislature in 1985.

Kerr’s problems with ethical issues didn’t stop Cam Jackson from going after the provincial seat which he won handily in 1985 and held every year through to 1999 when he left provincial politics very suddenly after being asked to leave Cabinet. The paparazzi staked out Jackson’s home for several days when he went to ground and wasn’t seen for three weeks.

Always mercurial Jackson was a winner at the provincial level.  His luck didn’t hold out second time around at the municipal level.

Always mercurial Jackson was a winner at the provincial level. His luck didn’t hold out second time around at the municipal level.

Jackson has always been a bit of mercurial candidate for the citizens of Burlington. Never lost an election but came uncomfortably close when he won by just 605 votes in 1987, then rose from those ashes to take more than 70% of the popular vote in 1995.

He was forced to resign on October 2, 2002 due to a controversy over his practice of billing the government for steak dinners and hotel stays. Jackson did not appear in public for weeks and there was speculation that he would not run for re-election. Jackson was fully exonerated of all allegations before the next election, and did retain his riding in the 2003 election (albeit with a greatly reduced majority) while dozens of other Tory MPPs lost their seats.

His first loss, while running for a second term as Mayor of Burlington was very hard; Jackson came in third behind two former members of city Council who chose to run against him after just the one term as Mayor.

Colourful backgrounds, is it something in the water we draw from the lake ?

Joyce Savoline ran a clean office but wasn’t seen as someone who did all that much for the city. She was reputed to be less than moved by the current Leader of the Opposition, Tim Hudak and chose to announce her plans to retire well in advance and give the party plenty of time to find a strong candidate. Savoline didn’t do all that well against Marianne Meed Ward in 2007. Meed Ward, running as a Liberal, lost the election but not by that much – 19,693 to Savoline’s 21,517 votes.

That closer than usual result for the provincial Liberals in 2007 has led them to believe they have a shot at winning the seat this time around.

For a very short period of time there were two candidates for the Liberal nomination but that got pared down to one with Karmel Sakran now out there campaigning. The Liberals have had a bit of a jump on the PC’s, but they don’t appear to be putting that small advantage to much use. They have yet to name a campaign organizer but at least they have a candidate who just might be enough of a conservative to make the difference.

As for the Progressive Conservatives – So far they’ve not even managed to call a nomination meeting. Trouble in paradise?

 

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