St. Marys Journal Argus
With a casual gathering on Sunday, Oct. 19 at the stylish Westover Inn that he owns, St. Marys lawyer and soon-to-be-former Town Councillor Stephen McCotter officially launched his bid to secure the federal Liberal Party’s nomination in the riding of Perth-Wellington.
“For the past several years, I’ve felt that this riding has slowly been slipping,” McCotter told an audience of about 40 people that was dominated by St. Marys and area residents but also included supporters from across a riding that stretches from Highway 7 in the south to Mount Forest in the north.
Elected as a town councillor in October, 2010, the St. Marys resident opted not to seek a second term and, instead, threw his name into the hat for the Liberal nomination. The federal wing of the party recently confirmed his eligibility as a candidate and, to this point, he is alone on the Perth-Wellington list.
He told Sunday’s gathering that his main order of business over the coming weeks will be to encourage supporters to sign up as Liberal Party members in order to be able to vote in the yet-to-be-scheduled Perth-Wellington nomination meeting.
“They’ve just had a couple of nomination meetings in nearby ridings over the past week or so, so they’re starting to put candidates in place fairly quickly,” McCotter informed the Journal Argus on Sunday. He added that he expects a nomination meeting in this riding sometime between the Oct. 27 municipal election and Christmas.
“In the next weeks and months, I’ve got to get out travelling and meeting a lot of people,” he told the audience.
Speaking to the Journal Argus, McCotter cited ongoing cutbacks in Canada Post and VIA Rail as federal issues that have directly affected St. Marys and area. And he believes southwestern Ontario in general, and Perth-Wellington in particular, have been short-changed when it comes to investment from the Federal Development Agency (FedDev).
“(The Harper government) has only spent $79,000 of the over $177 million that has been earmarked for improving the economic conditions in southern Ontario,” McCotter said, adding that a recently-released first quarter report “shows that, while the agency spent over $4.6 million on staff, it only managed to provide grants under one of (its) programs.”
“This shows the lack of concern for the hardworking families in Southern Ontario,” the Liberal nomination hopeful concluded. “With so many families struggling to make ends meet and so many new and young Canadians finding it harder and harder to find a job, it is disappointing to see that the government would not invest in the region’s future.”
For the first time since 2003, the rival Conservatives in Perth-Wellington will head into the next federal election — planned for October, 2015 but, as McCotter noted, possibly earlier if there are unexpected developments in Ottawa — without Gary Schellenberger as their candidate. A Nov. 8 date has been set by the riding association for a Conservative nomination meeting in Listowel, with three candidates — Stratford residents Peter Maranger and Ken Steven, and Mitchell’s John Nater — seeking to succeed Schellenberger.
McCotter, of course, would also like to succeed Schellenberger — but as MP, and as a Liberal. He added that it has been the long-time MP’s failure to bring adequate influence to the ruling Conservatives on behalf of his home constituency that has left Perth-Wellington on the outside looking in during recent years.
“I’d really like to see somebody a little more vocal in this riding,” he told the Journal Argus. “I’m hopeful we can have a stronger voice in Ottawa when the next government is formed.”