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By-election in Dufferin

March 7, 2005 permalink

Ernie Eves, the former leader of the Ontario Provincial Progressive Conservative party, won as MPP for Dufferin-Peel-Wellington-Grey in the general election held in October 2003, but his party lost its majority in the provincial parliament, causing him to resign as party leader. His replacement as leader is John Tory. In early February Mr Eves resigned as MPP. The membership was not advised or consulted on the choice of the nominee. At a meeting on February 12 the PC riding association president announced that just one candidate had tendered nominating papers, selecting him by default. A love-in by a dozen PC dignitaries praised John Tory, including former provinicial premiers Ernie Eves and Bill Davis, and Mr Tory's rivals for the leadership, Jim Flaherty and Frank Klees. The conspicuous absence was former provinical premier Mike Harris. There was no evidence of support for Mr Tory originating within the riding itself.

The by-election will be held March 17, the third in less than three years. Tonight there was an all-candidates meeting in Orangeville. The closed format of the two previous elections was scrapped, and members of the audience questioned the candidates directly. The participants were Frank deJong (Green), John Tory (PC), Jim Macintosh substituting for Phillip Bender (Libertarian), Paul Micelli (Family Coalition), Bob Duncanson (Liberal), Bill Cook (independent) and Lynda McDougall (NDP). John Turmel (independent) was absent. Bob Rice did well in the role of moderator. Each candidate gave an opening statement, there was two hours of questioning, followed by a closing statement from each candidate.

The major party candidates described problems and attacked the opposition, but had few policies. John Tory's only specific policies were to complete improvements to highways 10 and 410, and to cut waiting times for medical procedures (an applause line).

John Tory said he lived in Toronto, and would run in Toronto in the next general election. Bob Duncanson claimed long-term residency, though he was unsure how to pronounce Erin.

Because of the open format there was some discussion of family issues. Mr Micelli defined the family as the basic political unit, but did not define policy changes that could strengthen the family. All of the candidates except Mr Micelli and Mr Cook supported same-sex marriage.

Open space facilitator Sylvia Cheuy (rhymes with chew) asked a long complex jargon-filled question ending with: What you would do to ensure social prosperity in the riding? Jim Macintosh, the first responder, brought on a round of laughter by asking "Could you repeat the question?".

Later Brenda Dee, President of Family Transition Place asked what the candidates would do to stop family violence before it happens, averting the need for shelters. All of the candidates, even Mr Micelli, were supportive of the women's shelter.

Mr Micelli and Mr Macintosh supported school vouchers, all the major parties opposed.

Voters wishing to halt the destruction of the family are limited to the minor candidates, Mr Micelli, Mr Bender and Mr Cook.