THUNDER BAY – With the selection of Richard Harvey as the Conservative nominee in Thunder Bay Superior North, grassroots Conservatives are feeling like they finally have a shot at winning.
The last elected Conservative MP on the north-side of the city was back in 1930 when Donald Cowan was the Progressive Conservative MP.
Cowan was defeated in 1933 by C.D. Howe, and ever since then the Conservatives have remained in the political wilderness.
Some Conservative minded supporters have mused that one of the problems over the past decades has been a lack of determination and desire to win atop the local party association.
Those supporters are cheering the election of Richard Harvey as a sign that the grassroots are taking back the local Conservative movement.
That is not to suggest that Harvey will have an easy time winning a seat in the House of Commons. The nomination is simply the start of the real work toward the next election.
Talking to Harvey, he sees one of his major tasks as letting voters know exactly what being a Conservative is all about. Harvey says that when he explains to voters what the party stands for, many people are surprised, and comment that ‘I am a conservative’.
Harvey sees the issues facing our region to include boosting traditional industries like forestry and mining, as well as bringing new industries to the region.
Likely among his first tasks, as candidate will be forming a campaign team of dedicated Conservatives who are focused on winning.
Local Conservatives who have spoken to NNL have suggested that moving forward for the party means moving past their past, and bringing in new ideas and new people. Should Harvey accomplish that goal, it is possible that the Conservatives could pull off what would be considered by many as a political miracle.
The local New Democrats spent a long time learning how to win, and brought in political experts to teach the local team how to campaign and win. Those efforts paid off in the election of Bruce Hyer and John Rafferty to the House of Commons.
The Liberal campaign in TBSN appears to be a far quieter effort. Yves Fricot, the Liberal candidate has been more focused on getting the pulp mill in Terrace Bay up and running.
That may be the opening for the Conservatives, or it could focus NDP voters on Fricot’s employer more than the Liberal candidate suspects it will.
For Conservatives the real task is likely one of sharing with voters what exactly being a Conservative really means. For many in our region, the image perhaps remains of a greedy robber baron, raking in millions in profits while leaving little in return.
For Richard Harvey and Maureen Comuzzi-Stehman, moving into the fast lane politically will also be important. In today’s political world, information travels in nano-seconds. Getting their campaigns off and running so that information gets out to the people quickly and consistently will be critical.
Bruce Hyer and John Rafferty have mastered that part of the political process. Between hosting townhall meetings, open forums and sharing regular columns on a variety of issues, the NDP MPs have moved well past the federal Liberals in our region in terms of grassroots communications.
What will happen on election day is always anyone’s guess, the decision over who will represent us in Ottawa is that of the people.
It will be the candidate who voters believe will best serve the region who will likely gain the support of the majority of those voters.
That of course is just my opinion, and as always, your mileage may vary.