Russell mayor seeking to replace Grant Crack as Liberal candidate

Russell Mayor Pierre Leroux (left) has announced his intention to replace outgoing Glengarry-Prescott-Russell MPP Grant Crack (right) as the district's Liberal candidate, following Crack's decision not to run in the provincial election.

Leroux jumps in as Crack bows out

EMBRUN — Glengarry-Prescott-Russell MPP Grant Crack says he won’t run in the upcoming provincial election, and Russell Mayor Pierre Leroux has burst out of the gate to replace him as Liberal candidate.

Crack went public yesterday with the news that his name will not be on the ballot when residents of the district head to the polls on June 7. The MPP says he already advised Premier Kathleen Wynne of that decision earlier this year.  “After careful consideration and heartfelt discussions with my family, I concluded that the time is right to seek out other career opportunities,” he says in the official statement from his office.

Leroux consequently launched his candidacy for the Liberal nomination this morning, telling Nation Valley News that Crack approached him about letting his name stand as the new Grit candidate in G-P-R. It was an “honour” just to be asked, he told Nation Valley News.

A former small business owner who sold off his convenience and video store enterprise last fall, Leroux says that Crack’s overture ironically came about a week after he was approached by “some Progressive Conservative residents” of the district wondering if he might consider running for their party “if they re-opened the Conservative nomination.”

“I’m fiscally conservative and socially Liberal,” the mayor explains of his apparent popularity on both sides of the aisle.

The chosen PC candidate is Russell Councillor Amanda Simard, and the mayor’s intent to become her Liberal opponent will no doubt focus more attention on the dynamics at the township council table for a while.

The provincial campaign officially kicks off in early May.

“From day 1, when she [Simard] got the PC nomination, I made it clear I didn’t want provincial politics at my council table,” the mayor says, adding that approach continues to be true now that he’s entering the game to represent the district at Queen’s Park as well.

A 17-year resident of Russell Township — a place he describes as “no better place to raise a family or run a business” — the former fire fighter served a term as councillor before being elected mayor in a by-election prompted by the death of  the popular incumbent, J-P St. Pierre, during the last municipal election. St. Pierre’s team rallied around him as successor, he says, adding he hopes for a similar coalescing of support from Crack’s team in the local Liberal riding association.

If he fails to win either the nomination or the provincial election in G-P-R, Leroux assures that he will still run for re-election as Russell mayor.

He dutifully toes the line on Liberal policy, declaring in a press release, “I am someone who is committed to making our lives easier and more affordable. Premier Kathleen Wynne is making historic investments that will help our community, like free prescriptions for young people and seniors, and universal childcare for toddlers. If nominated as the Ontario Liberal candidate, I would be a fierce advocate for our families, so that we have the support we need.”

He lauds the outgoing MPP for “doing a great job and representing our community, and I want to wish him well in whatever he decides to do next. I want to pick up where Grant left off and continue to push for investments that make a real difference in people’s lives.”

The decision to bow out was “very difficult,” says Crack, who thanks “the great people” of the riding for the opportunity to represent them since 2011. Pledging to assist the next Liberal candidate in the upcoming campaign, Crack expresses confidence G-P-R will remain in the red column on June 7 and that Premier Wynne will be re-elected to another majority government.




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