By Adam Brazeau
CORNWALL, Ontario - Liberal heavyweights descended on Cornwall in an effort to garner support for John Earle, the provincial Liberal candidate for Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry, as the June 12 election draws closer.
The Provincial Liberal Association of SDSG hosted a campaign mixer for Earle at Truffles Burger Bar Friday.
Grit stalwarts Madeleine Meilleur, Ontario's attorney general and minister of francophone affairs, Edward Lumley, a Trudeau-era cabinet minister and former mayor of Cornwall, and retired MPP Jim Brownell were the guests of honour.
"We need someone like John Earle at Queen's Park," said Meilleur, MPP for Ottawa-Vanier. "I hope on June 13 we'll be celebrating."
When the former minister of culture heard rumblings Earle was considering a life in politics, she researched his career as an entrepreneur and documentarian and was impressed with his ability to successfully blend creativity with business.
"John will represent this riding back at Queen's Park like Jim Brownell did before," she said. "We're very fortunate to have him as a candidate. Thank you for taking this extraordinary challenge."
Meilleur wasted no time blasting incumbent MPP Jim McDonell for "not speaking up for the SDSG riding at Queen's Park."
"We don't hear about the need of your community very often. It's very quiet back there, and when we see your MPP getting up to say something in the House I'm always surprised," she said.
Meilleur trumpted Premier Kathleen Wynne and the 2014 budget, which was delivered on May 1.
Earle who has been finding his voice throughout the recent all-candidates debates in Martintown and Cornwall, spoke firmly about his opposition to Progressive Conservative party leader Tim Hudak.
"We absolutely cannot let Tim Hudak into government. That scares me and it scares the people that were out talking to when we're knocking on doors," said Earle. "We need jobs in this country, a government who can do math properly, and we don't need to cut those 100,000 jobs. Let's get the word out and tell people to check that box and vote Earle June 12."
Lumley considered the provincial election a different brand of politics in contrast to a federal campaign and left the speeches for Meilleur, Brownell, and Earle. The crowd of 50 loyal supporters had to speak with him face-to-face to get his take on Earle being the next MPP for SDSG. But Seaway News conducted an exclusive interview with Lumley to find out his views on the newly minted politician. And it's no secret he's been a friend of the Earle family for decades.
"My view is John would make a superb provincial member," said Lumley. "Elections are won riding by riding - not necessarily by what has happened at Queen's Park. We've always had great representation in this region over the years- nobody better than Jim Brownell - and he fits that mold."
He acknowledged that McDonell and the NDP's Elaine MacDonald have considerable experience at the podium, but saw Earle's recent dive into politics as a fresh start for the Liberal party.
"It's very difficult running against the incumbent, but keep knocking on doors and shaking hands - you never know what will happen," said Lumley. "He has a tough campaign ahead, but I think it's great to see new blood in politics."
More to come.