Witherspoon no longer seeking PC nod

Prior responsibilities have caused Fort Frances Mayor Glenn Witherspoon to opt against seeking the Progressive Conservative nomination in Kenora-Rainy River.
But with what he says is a strong list of candidates, Mayor Witherspoon is confident his party will gain some ground in this riding.
The mayor had thought he would seek the PC nod in the upcoming provincial election back in February, but said Tuesday he had a change of heart.
“There were just too many things on my plate and with business interests and family . . . it contributed to a lot of things,” he said.
“I will continue to operate at the level I am at and make where I am a better place to live,” he remarked.
Mayor Witherspoon currently is sitting on the regional “Smart Growth” panel, as well as on the Ministry of Natural Resources’ Nuisance Bear Review Panel.
He also is president of the Kenora-Rainy River Progressive Conservative Riding Association, as well as being the long-time mayor of Fort Frances and a local businessman.
Mayor Witherspoon said he made the decision more than a month ago, and was glad to see individuals such as Cathe Hoszowski now seeking the nomination.
“Cathe will do an excellent job. She’s determined, she has knowledge of municipal needs and how to serve them,” he said. “She has strong roots in the community as the daughter of Cliff McIntosh, who owned Quetico Centre.
“She knows what politics is all about,” the mayor added. “She will give, if she is successful in her bid, Howard Hampton or whoever runs for the Liberals an excellent test.”
The riding also has received interest from two other candidates. One man in Kenora currently is considering the decision so Mayor Witherspoon wouldn’t name him.
The other potential candidate is Goyce Kakegamic, deputy grand chief of Nishnawbe Aski First Nations.
NDP leader and local MPP Howard Hampton said he was surprised that Mayor Witherspoon had decided not to seek the nomination here.
“What did Glenn decide he was a Liberal again?” Hampton said yesterday. “He has to worry about the bears now.
“I don’t know that much about Cathe [Hoszowski] because she’s from Atikokan,” Hampton said of her bid to seek the PC nomination.
In response to Kakegamic running, Hampton replied, “That would be interesting,” without elaborating.
Hampton already has been acclaimed as the NDP candidate for this riding.
Mayor Witherspoon said no firm date had been picked for a nomination meeting but that a candidate should be chosen by November.
Meanwhile, Roger Valley of Dryden, president of the local Ontario Liberal riding association, said a number of people are considering a run in the next election, but that a candidate had not been selected yet nor has a date been set for a nomination meeting.
Either way, Mayor Witherspoon said local Conservatives are gearing up for a election, whenever that might be.
“I think we will do extremely well if people really look at what the government is doing for the north with all the different programs, support for education, and the willingness to work together and get involved in everything such as disaster relief fund,” he said.
“They are making a strong attempt to show they are governing all of Ontario,” he added. “Ernie Eves has made a commitment to make sure that he wants someone from the north sitting at the cabinet table.
“He wants someone from here at the cabinet table and our service will be even better,” Mayor Witherspoon enthused.
“In fact, if you look back over the last seven years, we’ve done pretty well,” countered Hampton.
“The priority of the Conservative government wasn’t health care or education, the priority was roads, so I made sure that just about all the highways in our riding were re-developed or re-paved or both,” he said.
Hampton also stood up for his efforts on behalf of local hospitals and health care concerns.
“If some weeks into the election campaign they want to run on my record, I will be happy to do that,” he said.
Hampton charged the current Tory government had far from the best interests of the north in mind, pointing to the recent U.S.-run Denny’s Super 30 Rainy Lake Invitational that was stopped here last week.
“I’m pleased [it was] terminated but it happened because of the good work of a local Immigration officer, not the Ontario Conservative government or the Conservative minister of Natural Resources,” Hampton argued.
“They are quite prepared to allow people to come from Minneapolis and run a bass tournament on Rainy Lake, people from Dallas come and run a bass tournament on Lake of the Woods.
“We in Ontario are for sale to the highest bidder, or in some cases people will just give it away,” he argued.
“I will do everything I can to change that attitude on the part of the government, or if need be change the government.”