It was a quickie – 15 minutes and no open bar. McKenna gets acclaimed, Wallace gets excited.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON July 27, 2011 – It took awhile, but the Burlington Progressive Conservative Association finally nominated a candidate. Jane McKenna was acclaimed in a very, very short nomination meeting – 15 minutes, and they were out the door.

It was a decent size meeting, maybe 100 people in the room but it had that eerie feeling the Cam Jackson municipal campaign had – a lot of very senior people sitting in those chairs. And there wasn’t much in the way of energy in the room. Were it not for the consistent clapping by federal MP Mike Wallace, there may not have been any applause.

A fresh face with no political experience other than a run for a seat on city council for a ward she didn’t live in.

A fresh face with no political experience other than a run for a seat on city council for a ward she didn’t live in.


The Progressive Conservative Association held it’s meeting without the presence of the President of the Association at the podium nor was the sitting member, Joyce Savoline in attendance. Both Burt Radford, president of the Association and Joyce Savoline were said to have had “other obligations”. There appeared to be some difference of opinion over whether or not the meeting was properly constituted but the concerns weren’t made public other than one member saying that he did have a copy of the association in his bag.

There is something not quite right with the Burlington Progressive Conservative Association – but they now have a candidate and while she has absolutely no political experience she does appear to have friends who support her. Ron Foxcroft got a specific mention and Keith Strong placed her name in nomination..

Rene Papin, the nice man who fell on his sword when it was suggested he wasn’t quite what the association was looking for, was in the room but Brian Heagle who after changing his political stripes from red to blue found that the change in colour wasn’t quite enough, bowed out of the race by saying that the failure to call a nomination meeting had left him hanging in the wind and he wanted to get on with his life and withdrew his name as well. Heagle didn’t make an appearance. Nor did former MPP Cam Jackson make an appearance. Any chance to rehabilitate his reputation in Burlington is going to have to start with his attending events like this.

McKenna looked great, was a little edgy and flushed at the podium, which didn’t have a microphone for the speakers, but there was a freshness to her. Given that Burlington tends to elect Tories – it is said that the city hasn’t elected a provincial Liberal since 1943 McKenna stands a chance. The extremely disappointing behaviour of both the sitting member and the association president are things McKenna is going to have to put behind her and create her own organizational and build her own campaign team. With just 71 days before the election she does have her work cut out for her.

McKenna did come up with one interesting bit of information when she said: “Ontario has almost 630 different Agencies, Boards and Commissions. Every one of them will be reviewed to ensure they are providing good value for the taxpayer. Our process will be straightforward. If it works, leave it alone. If it’s broken, fix it. If it cannot justify its existence, it goes. Great sound bite – now to get out on the streets and make the words real to the voters.

With candidates nominated by the three political parties that are active in Burlington the race is on. McKenna won’t have to beg for funds – there were enough deep pockets in the room to get out the coin from the membership.

She appears to have a pretty sharp tongue. During the municipal election she ran against Rick Craven in Ward 1, got trounced but certainly had her say. “I have the interests of all of Ward 1 at heart. The only knock on me, and it’s a non-issue in my mind, is that I don’t live in the ward – though I’ve got close family there and have worked full-time in Ward 1 for several years. If for whatever reason you’re hung up on geography, consider the fact that the mid-point between the incumbent’s home and my own is the Burlington Golf and Country Club; if you live east of there, I’m technically more your neighbour than the politician you’ve been paying for the last 10 years. And frankly, those 10 years have been sufficient. Most incumbents have been at it for long enough that they’ve shifted into maintenance mode. Competitive communities should never be satisfied with the status quo. Ward 1 in particular needs fresh leadership that respects the concerns of residents, that addresses the ward’s shortage of basic amenities and is prepared to work tirelessly toward a shared vision of community.

Karmel Sakran has been in the field for the Liberals for a number of months and has managed to pull two Ministers into the riding; Chris Bentley, the Attorney General made comments that will keep the Liberal base happy and Kathleen Wynne came to town to tell Burlington Mayor Rick Goldring and the people from the Stop Escarpment Highway Coalition that a road didn’t have to be built through the Escarpment. Halton Regional Chair Gary Carr says she promised “that the province will not proceed with the Niagara to GTA corridor through Burlington”. Promise is a big word with anyone but one that doesn’t have much credibility when it comes from politicians. It’s not that they don’t tell the truth; it’s that they have to satisfy the interests of every segment of society and everyone cannot be satisfied. We will track this one. Good for Sakran to pull that much political weight into the riding.

The NDP have Peggy Russell in place and so now the gates are open and we can begin tracking this one more closely.

Tim Hudak, the man who wants to form the next Ontario government, has decided that he will take the seats he can win in Hamilton and live with losing Burlington and perhaps Halton by taking the position tat the GTA corridor is necessary. Maybe he can have all those criminals he want to get out of their jail cells and earn their keep doing some of that road building – and then we can create a unique tourism industry and have people from around the country visiting and watching convicts break rocks with sledge hammers. Gives the provincial motto “Yours to Discover” a whole new meaning doesn’t it.




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