| Jul 19, 2007

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Feature Article - July 19, 2007

Tory and Hillier put on united front at campaign kick off

by Jeff Green

Ontario Conservative Party leader John Tory scheduled his first eastern Ontario event in the provincial election campaign for Smiths Falls last Thursday, July 12.

He appeared at a media event at the gates of the soon to be closed Hershey Factory to rail against the current government. “Smiths Falls has become the poster child for Dalton McGuinty’s neglect and inattention to the over 160,000 manufacturing jobs his policies have chased from this province,” he said.

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In response to the needs of communities like Smiths Falls, Tory said a conservative government would reduce business regulations, improve the Eastern Ontario Development Program, promote tourism, revitalize downtowns and main streets in Ontario, and move 10% of government jobs out of Toronto.

While it is unclear how any of these measures would have made a difference in the case of the Hershey plant, Tory pledged that, “One of the first places I’d like to move government jobs is Smiths Falls.”

Later that morning, John Tory made an appearance at a party gathering at the farm of former MPP Leo Jordan. At that occasion the Federal MP for Lanark, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington, Scott Reid, addressed about 75 party loyalists, as did Jordan, John Tory, and Randy Hillier.

John Tory, who is best known as a Toronto politician, even seeking the mayor’s job against David Miller four years ago, stressed his connections to rural Ontario in his remarks, saying that he had learned a lot from his recent experience as an MPP in the Durham region.

He also spoke about Randy Hillier, the party’s outspoken candidate in Lanark, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington.

Concerning regulations about farm products sold at farmers’ markets, Tory supported the position taken by Hillier and the Lanark Landowners’ Association in recent years, asking, “How many people have you heard of dying from eating butter tarts prepared in farm kitchens?”

He also spoke directly about Randy Hillier.

“To have a fighter with us like Randy Hillier, I think that’s a good thing. We need to have more fighters in Toronto and Ottawa,” John Tory said.

In his own remarks, Randy Hillier said he “shares similarities” with John Tory. “There is a need to take decision making away from the bureaucrats in Queen’s Park. There is more to the province than Toronto. I will stand up for everyone in rural Ontario.”

Although Hillier and Tory were careful to praise each other, earlier on at least one of John Tory’s handlers wasn’t exactly sharing the love.

Three reporters, including myself, who had been invited to the event at Leo Jordan’s farm, were asked to leave by Brendan Howe, of the John Tory campaign. “We had our media availability at the Hershey’s plant,” Howe said. “This is not a public function.”

When it was pointed out that an invitation had been proffered to the local media by Mr. Hillier, Brendan Howe stuck to his line.

A couple of minutes later Randy Hillier came over and said to Howe, “This is not the way we do things in Frontenac, Lennox and Addington. We have nothing to hide from the local media.”

The two men walked off to finish their conversation.

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