Federal Candidates Line Up

Friday, April 13, 2007

Written by Gonzalo Moreno

It must be the springtime. Squirrels come back from hibernation, students wear Birkenstocks in sub-zero weather, and politicians get frisky. And no politician is getting friskier than Prime Minister Stephen Harper, whose love affair with voters is reinforced by the latest batch of polls, triggering strong rumours that a spring election is on its way.

While none of this is immediately apparent, a federal election is so conspicuously not on its way that every political party in Guelph has spent the last few weeks selecting a candidate that can win the riding. After 14 years in Ottawa, Guelph Liberal MP Brenda Chamberlain is retiring, leaving the field wide open.

The first major party to make a move was the Conservatives, who elected to nominate Brent Barr, a local businessman and a prof at Wilfrid Laurier and Ryerson. Barr won the nomination over Guelph city councilor and former president of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) Gloria Kovach. Barr already ran against Chamberlain last year and lost by over 6,000 votes.

In a bizarre turn of events, Kovach lost her presidency of the FCM a few days after the Conservative nomination contest. Kovach claims that Liberal leader Stephane Dion pressured the FCM into holding a vote to oust her from that position. She also alleges that the pressure started when she announced her intention to seek the Conservative nomination. Neither the office of Stephane Dion nor the FCM returned Thecannon.ca’s messages on the issue.

The NDP also expressed a strong ambition to win the Royal City by acclaiming aboriginal author and UoG prof Tom King as its candidate on March 30. King, who is a member of the Order of Canada and a widely-known broadcaster and social activist, is the most recognizable face in the race.

The Liberal Party waited until Thursday night to nominate a candidate. Local lawyer and former Catholic schoolboard trustee Frank Valeriote ultimately won the nomination over fellow front-runner and former UoG Master’s student Marva Wisdom. The nomination meeting saw over 1,600 members of the local riding association cast their votes, Valeriote managed to edge out Wisdom, who is a Liberal Party policy insider, as well as Rev. Jake Williams and Wendy Powell.

Like Barr, Mike Nagy will also be repeating as the candidate for the Green Party.

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