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Mulroney acclaimed as York-Simcoe nominee

By Patrick Bales, The Orillia Packet & Times

Caroline Mulroney, at the Ontario PC Party nomination meeting for the York-Simcoe riding, Sunday, September 10, 2017. Patrick Bales/The Packet & Times/Postmedia Network

Caroline Mulroney, at the Ontario PC Party nomination meeting for the York-Simcoe riding, Sunday, September 10, 2017. Patrick Bales/The Packet & Times/Postmedia Network

Caroline Mulroney wants to be part of a government that helps people, not gets in their way.

The place for her to do that is in York-Simcoe. The 43-year-old daughter of former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney was acclaimed at the Ontario PC Party candidate for the riding at a nomination meeting Sunday in Keswick.

An upstairs lounge at the Georgia Ice Palace was packed with supporters from around the riding, which includes the towns of Bradford West Gwillimbury, East Gwillimbury and Georgina, as well as the Chippewas of Georgina Island First Nation and portions of the Township of King and Town of Innisfil.

Mulroney mentioned as a mother of four, she had spent countless hours in hockey arenas as her young children have grown up.

But she likely hadn't spent a great deal of time in the Keswick arena until recently.

The candidate's residency has been an issue raised by opponents of the provincial Tories, with some seeing her as notable name being parachuted into a historically conservative riding.

“I have a home in the riding, in Georgina, not far from here,” she said during a media availability following the nomination. “My husband works in the city; we have a place there. It's not easy, but we doing a lot of driving and a lot of scheduling... we make it work.”

Her family had been visiting the area for a number of years, and had been looking for a place to purchase. That was found this spring, she said.

Mulroney has found herself in the riding significantly more over the past month, since she announced her intention to run just before the August long weekend. She said she chose the riding because of the connection she has made with it over the years, as well as the relationship developed with retiring MPP Julia Munro. When Munro announced she wouldn't seek re-election, “it just made sense” to Mulroney to submit her name for consideration.

Riding president Kailey Vokes said Mulroney knows she has big shoes to fill in replacing Munro, but believes it will be a smooth transition between the two.

“Both Caroline and Julia share passion for people and listening to people,” she said. “Just working hard to get things done. I think there are so many similarities we can draw between Julia and Caroline that it's actually really reassuring for us that we have such an amazing candidate.”

In her remarks to supporters, Mulroney criticized the Liberal government for being as unpredictable as the weather, highlighting the recent announcement to raise the minimum wage in the province to $15, which was done without consultation with or concern for small businesses and entrepreneurs, according to the nominee.

“What we're trying to do is make sure that people understand that we're here to listen to them,” Mulroney said. “This government – this Liberal government – is not listening to them. They are implementing policies now for their own benefit, that are really benefiting them for the next election. The result is that they're making it harder for people.”

“The policies we've been running on.... will make it more affordable for families,” added Patrick Brown, leader of the opposition and MPP for Simcoe-North. “On any area, our focus is how can we make sure that families don't work harder, don't have to pay more, to get less.”

Those policies will be finalized at the party's policy convention in November.

An item most voters in the riding – particularly in south Simcoe County – consider a significant issue for the 2018 provincial election is traffic congestion. Brown didn't answer when asked directly if he would see the long awaited Bradford Bypass constructed if he forms government next spring, but rather indicated a greater amount of infrastructure spending would come to his home county.

“I understand that there's been a lot of complainants; that it appears Simcoe County hasn't been attended to when it comes to infrastructure dollars,” Brown said. “I get that we've been neglected in Simcoe County.... We're going to be helping with infrastructure needs everywhere. I understand there's a huge deficit here in Simcoe County and it will be attended to.”

In 2014, Munro won the riding by less than 3,000 votes, the narrowest margin in the riding's three election history.

Mulroney's opponents for the election have not been chosen by their respective riding associations. Election day will be on or before June 7.

pbales@postmedia.com

@patrickbales