By Stephen Petrick
It’s party time!
Ontario Premier Doug Ford is expected to visit the lieutenant-governor any day now and ask for an election to be called, meaning Ontarians will soon go to the polls to choose a new government. The expected date of the election is Thursday, June 2.
With the anticipation building, political parties are getting campaigns ready by pumping out platforms and press releases. Candidate lawn signs will start to sprinkle around the Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock electoral region, where a healthy field of candidates are expected to compete for the role as the riding’s Member of Provincial Parliament; even if recent political history foretells another landslide.
The Progressive Conservative Party candidate is the long-time incumbent, Laurie Scott. Scott, a Kinmount native, is looking for her fourth consecutive victory, as she won the local vote in 2011, 2014 and 2018. She also represented the riding between 2003 and 2009.
Her 2018 victory was by the widest margin, as she earned 32,406 votes, to more than double her nearest competitor, the NDP’s Zac Miller, who earned 15,142 votes.
As part of Ford’s government, Scott spent part of the past term as Minister of Labour and then Minister of Infrastructure, before being demoted to a backbencher in 2021.
Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock is traditionally a safe riding for provincial Conservatives. The only time the riding was held by another party this century was between 2009 and 2011 after Liberal Rick Johnson beat Progressive Conservative candidate John Tory, an outsider or “parachute” candidate, who was then leader of the party and thought he could win a by-election in the riding, as a quick method to have a seat in the Ontario Legislature.
Anything other than a landslide victory for Scott would be a surprise, but five other candidates have put their name forward to give voters some choice.
The Liberals are countering with Don McBey, who, according to his online bio, has built a career on medical, legal and community advocacy. He was recently the vice-chair of Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Appeals Tribunal. In a media release, Liberal leader Steven Del Duca called McBey a “proven fighter.”
McBey added, “after the last few disorienting years, our communities need a strong representative to empower our transition toward a post-pandemic recovery. I am committed to listening to your choices and challenges and advocating strongly on your behalf for better health care, schools, housing, and restored business and workplace predictability.”
Barbara Doyle will represent the NDP on the ballot box. Doyle, a Lindsay native, was nominated by the party back in November. She works at the Kawartha Lakes Museum and has been involved in local health care and anti-domestic violence initiatives.
“I am committed to standing up for local families to ensure that they have the services they need. I have fought to defend local public health care and I will keep fighting to expand it so people and families in our communities get the care they need where and when they need it,” she said in a statement issued at the time of her nomination.
The announcement of the local Green Party candidate may have been music to the ears of many Haliburton Highlands Secondary School graduates.
Tom Regina, who was once head of music at the high school, is up for the Greens. Regina has lived in Haliburton Highlands for more than 30 years and was a founding member of the local Green Party constituency.
An online bio posed by the party says that Regina is “concerned about the divisive political culture that stands in the way of governance for the common good” and that “electoral reform, social equity and ecological wisdom are among the Green values that motivated Tom to run as a Green candidate.”
There’s also a new party in the mix, the Ontario Party, and it has a local candidate, Kerstin Kelly.
An online bio for Kelly shows that she’s worked in a variety of fields, including aviation and veterinary services. She and her husband operated Crooked Lake Wilderness Lodge in Norwood, until the pandemic hit. The Ontario Party is led by Derek Sloan, the former Conservative Member of Parliament for neighbouring Hastings-Lennox & Addington, whose often unpopular views – for example, he accused Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam of working for China – caused plenty of sensational headlines and drew scorn from local officials and those within his own party. The Ontario Party’s slogan is “Freedom, Family and Faith.”
Those who like none of the above-mentioned candidates have another choice. Grant Dewar is running in the riding for the None Of The Above Party, also known as NOTA.
Dewar is described by the party as a retired farmer. NOTA’s website says that “voters need tools to better control how we nominate local candidates, formulate major party policies and elect people to represent us who will have to keep their promises or be held accountable, long before the next election.” His photo was not available at press time.
To learn more about the candidates, visit the following websites:
Laurie Scott: hklb.ontariopc.ca
Don McBey: donmcbey.ontarioliberal.ca
Barbara Doyle: barbaradoyle.ontariondp.ca/
Tom Regina: https://gpo.ca/candidate/tom-regina/
Kerstin Kelly: ontariopartyhkb.ca/
Grant Dewar: nota.ca/ontario/candidates/