Hudak at Webers Friday 2 p.m. hungry for votes – PC leader has cottagers cravings
By Mark Clairmont / MuskokaTODAILY
ARTREA — Central Ontario voters will get their closest look Friday afternoon at the man setting the agenda for the provincial election.
Ontario PC Leader Tim Hudak, who has been making the most headlines since the call of the election, will be making a quick detour to drop in for lunch at Webers Hamburgers on Hwy. 11.
He will join the holiday weekend cottage commuters, according to his campaign itinerary for a “photo-op” at 2 p.m.
Look for him to flip burgers with the “Key Man” — but not to flip-flop on any of his campaign promises.
The controversial leader with the admittedly clearest plan and agenda for future of the province will no doubt get a taste of the transportation gridlock that not only mars the GTA — but Muskoka and Central Ontario’s main street.
Globe and Mail columnist Roy McGregor, who grew up in nearby Whitney, wrote a great piece this week from nearby Barry’s Bay, where he said political leaders all but ignore ‘rural urbanites’ feel left out.
“If you want to find disenchantment, just head into the country,” he wrote.
He writes: “There is good reason why so many rural dwellers in Canada have come to feel as if they don’t really matter in the larger picture. And that reason is they are often treated as if they essentially do not exist.”
He said it’s a myth that most people live in big cities. Many do; most don’t. Like us, they live in small- to medium-sized towns and cities.
The ‘80 per cent of Canadians are urban’ “fib-rication,” he rightly points out, is to blame on a gross Statistics Canada figure that stated any town over 1,000 is urban.
That’s changed, he said, and now small, medium and large centres are 1,000 to 30,0000, then up to 100,000 and over the six-figure census count.
Expect Hudak to be joined by adjoining MPPs Norm Miller of Parry Sound-Muskoka and Simcoe North MPP Garfield Dunlop, neither of which appear to need their leaders help.
But Webers has become a regular stop for both provincial and federal politicians.
Hudak will be certain to hear from transient voters escaping the stresses of the big city to get away from it all to the ‘near-north.”
They will tell him that they can’t afford all the taxes — for government workers, schools and hospitals — what with having two homes, both in Southern Ontario and a second one in theses parts.
What Hudak won’t see, unless he ventured another 20 kilometres up the road, is a rural countryside desperate for jobs.
And with the huge importance of the few provincial government jobs in small communities in Ontario — many of which were cut by his predecessor Mike Harris at the MOEE and MNR — Hudak’s plans may not be digested well north of the Severn River.
At least Harris and his brief-successor Ernie Eves (our former MPP and premier) saw a glimpse of that when they motored up this way into our riding — either taking the Hwy. 69 cutoff at Barrie to Parry Sound or continuing on Hwy. 11 to North Bay.
But, at least Hudak will meet someone paying taxes and living large in Muskoka on Weber’s burgers.
The rest of us will have to be content with airing our beefs over backyard barbecues and weighing the leaders and their candidates.
Maybe Premier Kathleen Wynne or Andrea Horwath will drop in for breakfast or dinner.
The blackflies are already here.
Why don’t they join us. I have an empty B&B this weekend.
Hudak will start his campaign day at 9 a.m. at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre in downtown Toronto, around where he’s been spending much of time electioneering.
After his mid-day dalliance he will hop back on his bus and lead the hungry horde of media back to the GTA, where he will trade in his Webers whites for a black tuxedo and at 6 p.m. attend the Punjabi International Film Festival at the Mississauga Convention Centre.
But don’t look for him to glad-hand Mayor Hazel McCallion.
‘Hurricane’ Hazel slammed Hudak this week while endorsing Wynne.
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