| Feb 08, 2007

Feature Article - February 8, 2007

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Feature Article - February 8, 2007

Provincial Conservative nomination to be hotly contestedby Jeff Green

Ontario voters will be going to the polls to elect a provincial government on October 4th, thanks to the establishment of fixed election dates. The ridings have changed for the upcoming provincial election, mirroring the federal riding redistribution that took place a couple of years ago.

But unlike the first federal election that took place in the Lanark-Frontenac-Lennox and Addington (LFL&A) riding, which saw incumbent MPs Scott Reid and Larry McCormick square off, the first provincial election in LFL&A will see no incumbents contesting the seat.

Leona Dombrowsky, Liberal incumbent in the soon to be eliminated riding of Hastings-Frontenac-Lennox and Addington will be running in the new Prince Edward- Hastings riding, and Conservative incumbent Norm Sterling from the Lanark-Carleton riding will be running in the new Mississippi Mills-Carleton riding.


Three candidates: Brent Cameron, Randy Hillier and Jay Brennan have already announced their intention to seek the Conservative Party nomination in LFL&A, even though the candidate selection date is likely months away. It promises to be a lively contest, with the winner becoming the odds on favourite to become the first MPP from LFL&A, if federal results from the riding are any indication.

Brent Cameron has long been associated with Conservative Party politics, serving as an assistant to Peterborough Hastings MPP Harry Danforth in the early ’90s. He is currently the Vice President of the Federal Conservative riding association for LFL&A. He is also an advocate for Commonwealth Free Trade, a non-partisan issue that he promoted in a recent book.

Easily the most controversial of the three candidates is Randy Hillier, who recently resigned as the President of the Ontario Landowners in order to seek the nomination. Hillier has been highly critical of the current government, and as the primary spokesman for the Landowners, he has organised raucous farm protests in both Ottawa and Toronto, and defiant protests against the imposition of various federal and provincial regulations, whether they be hunting regulations, which the Landowners see as preventing farmers from culling deer, or rules about the size of eggs sold at farmers’ markets, the Nutrient Management Act, regulations about the disposal of sawdust, and many more.

The Ontario Landowners Association (OLA), an offshoot of the Lanark Landowners, identify an urban bias in the provincial and federal governments.

“Rural Ontario is now home to darkness and our voice is silent and muted within the bureaucratic halls of power in Queen's Park and Parliament Hill,” according to the preamble to the OLA’s founding declaration.

Seeking political office is among the initiatives that the OLA proposes, although following any specific party line is not a priority for them.

Their founding declaration also says, “The County Associations of the OLA, will field and/or support candidates for election to provincial/federal office. Once elected, these landowner-supported members will pose a united front against unjust legislation and unaccountable bureaucratic intrusions and will advocate for the protection of property rights and judicial reform. Should the need arise the OLA will create a political party.”

Jay Brennnan, who announced he is running at the beginning of this week, has worked in current Lanark-Carleton MPP Norm Sterling’s office for eight years, and worked for former MP and MPP Bill Vankoughnet in the early ’90s.

He cites some of the projects that Norm Sterling has been instrumental in bringing forward in the past, including the expansion of Highway 7 and the new high school in Smiths Falls as the kinds of initiatives he has worked on, and would promote in LFL&A. Brennan expressed his support for Conservative Leader John Tory in his campaign announcement, saying, in part, “John Tory has a strong understanding of and respect for rural Ontario and I would be a proud member of his team.”

This local nomination battle has already attracted attention on a provincial level, thanks to Randy Hillier’s inclusion.

George Smitherman, the outspoken Liberal Minister of Health gave a radio interview in which he described Randy Hillier as someone who is opposed to culture in all forms, who opposes gay rights, and once named a dead deer after current LFL&A MPP Leona Dombrowsky while she was the Minister of the Environment.

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