Nation Valley News
RUSSELL — Now that she’s jumped ship to the Grits, MPP Amanda Simard should show “leadership” by agreeing to let local Liberals decide their nominee for the 2022 election, says the party’s candidate in the last campaign.
“She says that the community is behind her, so I think she should take a leadership role and ask for an open nomination process if she’s that confident,” says Russell Township Mayor Pierre Leroux, who placed second to Simard in the 2018 election when she ran as a Progressive Conservative.
Leroux said he understands that Simard is otherwise slated to be awarded the nomination in 2022, without contest, after joining the diminutive Liberal caucus yesterday.
Interim Ontario Liberal Leader John Fraser welcomed the formerly independent MPP to the party fold yesterday. The development “was not a surprise” to Leroux, who has severed ties with the local Liberal riding association and won’t be running in the next election for any party. “Oh god, no, I’m done,” he said.
Both he and Simard were serving members of Russell Council during the bitterly contested provincial election. Simard, then a rookie councillor, put the Tories in the win column for the first time in G-P-R — but it didn’t last long. Unhappy over cuts to Francophone services, she left the Doug Ford PC’s in November 2018 to sit as an independent. In media interviews, she has pointed out that her PC nomination happened during the tenure of former leader Patrick Brown, before Ford took the reins.
“The Ontario Liberal party shares my values. I’m eager to be a part of the party renewal process as it modernizes and prepares for the future,” said Simard of her new ideological home in a Liberal press release. “We’re building a party that will offer Ontarians a clear alternative to Ford’s cuts and chaos in the next election. I’m excited to join my new caucus colleagues and am looking forward to the important work ahead.”
She plans to participate in the party’s leadership convention happening in March as well as canvass for Liberal members during the upcoming by-elections to be called in the Ottawa area.
Leroux offered that, from a “municipal and regional standpoint,” having Simard back with a party will have its benefits. “There have definitely been challenges over the past year with Amanda sitting as an independent,” the mayor said, citing a “lack of presence” on the part of the MPP.
“I’m hoping that we can turn the page and move forward. But I’m glad she’s with a party now because if the mayors are having issues with their representative, they can go speak to the leader, go speak to the party. Whereas with an independent, there was no support over the last year, we had no recourse.”
Decimated in the last election, the Liberal bench at Queen’s Park now stands at six members with its new addition — halfway to the minimum required for official party status in the Legislature.
Leroux suggested that if Simard had crossed the floor to the Liberals immediately after quitting the PCs, when the rule for party status was still eight members, the Liberals would have achieved that status (at the time) and likely staved off the Ford government’s upping of the requirement to 12 as well.