Jeff Green | Jan 19, 2006
Feature Article - January 19, 2006
Feature ArticleJanuary 19, 2006
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ScottReid:coming in from the cold
As the Conservative Party considers the possibility of achieving a breakthrough in Eastern Canada in general, and particularly in Ontario, Scott Reid has to be seen as one of the party’s pioneers. As an Ontario- born adviser to Reform Party leader Preston Manning in the early nineties, he was one of only two Alliance Party members elected in Ontario in the 2000 election, and a solid winner in the new riding of Lanark-Frontenac-Lennox and Addington (LFL&A) in 2004 (he won by 10,000 votes). He is one of the strongest Ontario links to the Reform-Alliance past of the new Conservative Party.
Before running for election, Scott Reid worked for a time at the University of Western Sydney, and wrote two political books on controversial topics, Canada Remapped (How the Partition of Quebec will reshape the nation) and Lament for a Notion (The Life and Death of Canada’s Bilingual Dream), as well as working with the Reform Party.
One of the lessons Scott Reid has learned in his journey from political analysis to the verge of political power, was the indirect result of his more academic pursuits.
Under the Alliance Party and during the early days of the Conservative Party, Scott Reid was named critic for bilingualism, based in part on his reasoned critique of official bilingualism in Lament for a Notion. During the election campaign in 2004, Scott Reid commented on the need for changing official bilingualism in the country to take other languages into account. In Toronto, he pointed out, French is a minor language, as compared to Chinese, Italian, and many others. Yet, bilingualism legislation requires that French Language Post Offices be maintained, even if speakers of other, more popular languages, do not have service in their own languages.
As Conservative Critic for Official Languages, Reid’s remarks were taken to mean the party would oppose official bilingualism if elected. Scott Reid resigned as Official Languages Critic within hours of the appearance of these media reports. This was the first in a series’ of so-called gaffes by the Conservative Party during that campaign, which saw them fall short of forming a government.
For Scott Reid, it was a learning experience. He returned to the shadow cabinet soon after the election, and has served as critic for FEDNOR, the Federal department that provides funding support for Northern, and now, Eastern, Ontario, and as critic for Direct Democracy.
He has conducted what he calls ‘constituency referenda’ on contentious issues, most recently on the issue of same sex marriage, and last summer presented a position paper on electoral reform and proportional representation to the House of Commons.
Although the LFL&A riding is large and it is difficult for an MP to serve, Scott Reid says that he prefers it to his previous mixed riding of Lanark-Carleton, which included Kanata, mainly because it is exclusively rural.
As an MP, Reid thinks it is important to provide service to his constituents, and he has maintained two offices at opposite ends of his riding. He also thinks that an MP can sometimes lend their stature to citizens’ movements. An example of this took place in Smiths Falls, where the high school community asked municipal, provincial and federal politicians to support the building of a new high school.
“Even though it is the school board that is responsible for building schools, having support from the municipal council, the MPP and the MP helped the local high School convince the school board to build a new school,” he recalls.
In candidate meetings and media interviews during this campaign, Scott Reid has stayed close to the party policy on most issues.
When interviewed by the News, he talked about Economic Development within the riding, and expressed support for the way Community Futures Development Corporations work and would work to maintain or enhance their funding.
“They are close to the local economies, and are best suited to helping make things happen.”
Scott Reid may find himself in the Federal cabinet if the Conservative Party forms a government next week.