Lisa Raitt has a fight on her hands - the scrappy former Cabinet Minister in the Harper government 'gives as good as she gets'.

federal election 2019By Pepper Parr

October 16th, 2019



Lisa Raitt has a fight on her hands.

Elected to the House of Commons twice for the Milton riding and prior to that as the Member for the Halton riding she now faces a sports celebrity, former Olympian Adam van Koeverden.

The Milton riding includes a significant portion of north rural Burlington.

Raitt fingers out

Studied law in the United Kingdom where she learned the habit of doing her homework.

Raitt is relying on the relationship she has with the community and the close ties to many of the families to retain the seat.

Born and raised in Sydney Nova Scotia Raitt attended St. Francis Xavier University where she started as a science student – after a political science course she began the switch to the world of administration and politics.

She went on to do a master’s degree in chemistry, specializing in environmental biochemical toxicology, at the University of Guelph. Raitt possesses an LL.B from Osgoode Hall Law School, and was called to the Ontario bar in 1998.

While there she was awarded a scholarship to spend two years at the Middle Temple in London, United Kingdom, which specialized in international trade, commerce, transportation, and arbitration.

In the UK law practices are formed as “Inns” where the practice is broken into Barristers and Solicitors.  Some of the best law in the Western world is practiced in the UK – you work hard and you prepare.

Raitt came away with an appreciation for legal arguments and the need to really do your homework when you have to argue a case.  That “doing the homework” stayed with Raitt.

In her final year at Temple Inn in London, UK she was offered the job as legal counsel for the Toronto Port Authority where, for a period of time she was the Harbour Master for Toronto. She served as corporate counsel for a year and was then made CAO where she stayed until 2008.

Raitt then decided public office was for her and ran as a Conservative in Halton under Stephen Harper who at the time was the leader of the Opposition. Raitt won her seat and Harper won the election.  He then made her  a member of his Cabinet, one of 11 women to be made Cabinet Members.

She served as the Minister of Natural Resources  and then moved along to Minister of Labour where she stayed for three years and was then made Minister of Transportation. in 2013

The Conservatives lost the 2015 election which made Raitt a member of the opposition. She was made Deputy leader – the first woman to be given that job within the Conservative party.

Raitt 2

On the run for the Conservative party leadership: “I just didn’t have the network the others had”. Her support never rose above 4%

Raitt did take a run at the Conservative Party leadership; which, after 13 rounds of voting, chose Andrew Scheer over Maxine Bernier on the 13th round; Raitt was dropped on the 7th round – her support never growing beyond 4%.

“I just didn’t have the network the others had” she explained. She said she was also newer to the party than many of those who lasted longer than she did in the race for the leadership.

She was as scrappy on the front bench as she was a Minister.

The people who ran against Raitt in Halton and Milton didn’t bring all that much to the table. As a Cabinet Minister in the Harper government with a high profile, not always as positive a profile as she would have liked, she was close to formidable.

As part of the Harper government Raitt made her share of public gaffes.  Her comments about cancer being a “sexy issue” when the Chalk River medical isotopes production was going to be shut down did not go down very well.

“Lessons were learned” she said in explaining some of the gaffs.

What is it that makes an MP successful – “your network” and she points to people like Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and Defence Minister Art Eggleton.  The quality of the help you get in your early years is what makes you a solid politician.  Jim Flaherty was amongst the best of her mentors.

This election is the toughest Raitt has faced.  She represents a community that has traditionally been conservative but the Milton of today is not the Milton that she was first elected in.  It is now a much more diverse community that has experienced massive growth – for a period of time it was the fastest growing community in the country.

There are significant issues – climate change and the continued expansion of aggregate quarries.  Health is a concern everywhere – but it is the two very different personalities that the resident of the riding have to choose between.  Not quite a popularity contest – but not far from it.  The questions is – has Lisa Raitt served her constituents as well as they want to be served?

The significantly different views at the federal level on how to tackle climate change, which threatens to change life for all of us, is significant in the riding.

Raitt thumbs up

There were people who described her as “”tough, quick, funny and hard-working — she can give as good as she gets.”

She is very clear – the proposed carbon tax is too low. However she also said in June of 2019 that: the “Bottom line is there’s no solid connection between climate change and the major indicators of extreme weather, despite Trudeau’s claims to the contrary. The continual claim of such a link is misinformation employed for political and rhetorical purposes.”

She was at times very scrappy, tough; but there were people who described her as “”tough, quick, funny and hard-working — she can give as good as she gets.”

Lisa Raitt is a quieter woman today, with deep roots in a small town community with a large rural area. She is well known, liked and appears to have taken care of her constituents.  Her position on the Air Park issue didn’t help her popularity rating in the ward six community of Burlington.

The mother of two boys, she lives with her husband and works with him as he deals with some medical issues.

The Milton race is a simple straight up two party affair. The New Democratic candidate’s support will come from the coat tails of Jagmeet Singh.

The Liberals have invested heavily in their candidate – can an outsider with a high sports profile – it doesn’t get much better than being an Olympian – defeat someone who has served well?

It is all going to depend on how well she has served her people. Her party leader isn’t going to do anything for her – if anything she might do something for him by keeping the seat which has become a constituency to watch.

Related news story:

Seasoned politician is up against an Olympian for the Milton House of Commons seat.

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8 comments to Lisa Raitt has a fight on her hands – the scrappy former Cabinet Minister in the Harper government ‘gives as good as she gets’.

  • RobN

    Shocked to see a person with such a stellar background, in science nonetheless, be a climate change denier.

    A true leader would put forward their own standpoint, regardless of party position. It should be acceptable to disagree with portions of your own party’s platform. Debate and respectful dissention is how we evolve as people, parties and a country.

    I’m not in her ward. If I was, she wouldn’t be getting my vote.

    There is no Planet B.

  • Eve St Clair

    Waiting for the article on her Liberal opponent ,oh wait he has done nothing except row a kayak

    • RobN

      “Nothing except row a kayak”.

      You left off at a world class level. Takes a significant amount of dedication, planning, sacrifice and mental toughness.

  • Stephen White

    The question comes down to whether style wins over substance. If common sense prevails then Lisa Raitt would (and should) win in a cake walk. She is hard working, bright, resourceful and tough. Unfortunately, a pretty face, a nice smile, name recognition and good looks often trumps substance.

    Milton deserves to be represented by a high profile MP with credibility, credentials, a track record of service and experience.

    • RobN

      Agreed. Ms. Raitt has great credentials. Some of the best of any candidate across the country.

      I vote for the party platform and hope that the candidate can step up to the task.

  • Bob

    Milton’s asset, compare Lisa’s CV, accomplishments against the two Jane’s?

    • RobN

      Surely the PC’s can find other candidates with substance.

      Interesting, in a negative light, how the ‘Janes’ were nominated.

      • June

        The Burlington PC’s – Progressive Conservatives of Ontario – had a candidate nomination race and vote in 2016. The winner, Jane McKenna, ran in the provincial 2018 election and won.
        The Burlington CPC’s – Conservative Party of Canada (‘Progressive’ was dropped from the federal party name in 2003) did not have a candidate nomination race or vote. The Conservative Party of Canada acclaimed the candidate Jane Michael in 2018. Acclaimed means no race and no vote, so there was no nomination. Burlington Conservative members did not get to choose the candidate who is running for MP in this federal election.