Wilson stands up for Hudak as leader

Ontario Progressive Conservative Party leadership hopeful Tim Hudak says he wants to restore middle-class values. Hudak made the comment in a speech to about 60 party members at a breakfast meeting at the Royal Canadian Legion in Creemore on Saturday. Simcoe-Grey MPP Jim Wilson, a Hudak supporter, hosted the event. Wilson said he chose Hudak, the member for Niagara West-Glanbrook, over other leadership contenders, Frank Klees, Randy Hillier and Christine Elliot because, “I worked with him for 14 years and found him to be intelligent, competent and honest.” Hudak was Wilson’s parliamentary assistant. Introducing Hudak to the gathering, Wilson said he was impressed by Hudak when, “I was mining minister after him and people kept asking, ‘where’s Tim?’” Wilson refers to Hudak as, “the man who saved the moose.” When the painted plastic moose craze, started by then Toronto mayor Mel Lastman, spread north, Wilson was using one as a charity fundraising promotional prop. Vandals stole his moose. “Tim said, ‘I have a spare moose,’ and brought it up,” Wilson recalled. Wilson said his original moose was later found by the OPP, adding that police said it had been “murdered” and thrown into a ditch. Taking the podium, Hudak said, since then, he’s found it “politically savvy to always have a spare moose.” Hudak told his audience that “(Premier) Dalton McGuinty has had the province on auto pilot for the past five years” and has run up the deficit to an all time high of $14.1 billion, even outspending former NDP premier Bob Rae. He said it’s that kind of spending that has made Ontario a have-not province, adding that his grandparents, who came here from Eastern Europe, would have been shocked at the idea of their adopted province being labeled one of the have-nots. Under McGuinty, the Sunshine List (public servants making over $100,000 a year) has increased by 165 per cent, Hudak pointed out. He said that includes 11 people in the premier’s office. Hudak compared those on the Sunshine List with the many people across the province that, in these economic times, face the decision of whether to put food on the table or pay the rent. One of Hudak’s suggestions is that parents be able to start a $1,000 savings account for each newborn child, which could be contributed to by relatives and would grow tax-free until the child reaches age 18. Then the teen would have the choice of how to use the money. He also aims to improve the education system by enhancing the use of phonics in elementary school and by promoting financial and economic literacy at the secondary school level. To turn the province around, tough decisions are needed, Hudak said, reminding his audience that the government of (former PC Premier) Mike Harris, “made Ontario number one in North America in job creation.” Hudak has a Bachelor of Economics degree, has worked in tourism, helped Wal-Mart Canada launch its stores in this country and served at one time as a Canada Customs border inspector. He joked that as a customs officer, when he saw anyone from Wasaga Beach, Creemore or Collingwood at the border, “I always let you go up the highway with no questions asked. With those from Stayner, it was a different story,” he quipped, much to the delight of his audience. Following his speech, Hudak said he has fond memories of travelling with his parents to Wasaga Beach from their home in Sarnia. He said, “the fire (Beach One November 2007) was a set-back” but expressed confidence that “the Wasaga Beach spirit” has prevailed to get things back on track in short order. Hudak now lives in Wellandport with his wife, Debbie, and their daughter, Miller. He was first elected to the Ontario Legislature in 1995 as the Member for Niagara South. Since then he has served as the Minister of Consumer and Business Services, the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation, the Minister of Northern Development and Mines and was Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Health, Jim Wilson. Voting for the party’s new leader takes place at two locations in the riding – the Wasaga RecPlex, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. June 21, 2009 and the Alliston Legion, 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. June 25. Those wishing to cast a ballot must obtain a 2009 Ontario PC membership by May 14.


SCI students pick up education awards

Aaron Bourbonnais, Chris Greer and Tori Iceton, Grade 12 students at Stayner Collegiate Institute (SCI), received Excellence in Education awards last week. The awards were handed out during the Simcoe County District School Board’s Evening of Excellence on Tues., May 5 at the board office in Midhurst. Students that received an award were recognized for success in such areas as academics, extra-curricular activities and community involvement. Teachers nominated students that received awards, said SCI teacher John Limoges, who oversaw the local process. Bourbonnais, 20, who lives in Avening, said it was an honour to be recognized. He received the award for excellent grades and a positive in-class attitude. A member of SCI’s robotics team, he was also recognized for being a solid role model for younger team members and for his overall dedication to the team, which each year builds a robot from scratch and then enters it in a provincial competition. Bourbonnais said the award was somewhat of a pay-off after a rocky start in high school. He said his first year in high school his attendance was sketchy. He said school didn’t interest him and so he dropped out. Unable to find decent work, Bourbonnais said he attended the board’s Adult Learning Centre and began earning credits. He returned to SCI for Grade 12 and will graduate in June. “I never thought I’d get to Grade 12. I just thought high school was a bunch of hype,” he said. “I learned the hard way what you need.” Bourbonnais said he’s not sure what he wants to do after graduation. Greer, 17, who lives in Creemore, also said it was an honour to be recognized by the board. He was singled out for his involvement with many of SCI’s sports teams. Greer has played on soccer teams, basketball teams, badminton teams and hockey teams and according to the teachers that nominated him has shown solid leadership skills. “I like the release I get from sports – getting away from that pent up energy you get from sitting at a desk,” he said when pressed about what draws him to sports. Greer was also honoured for his academic success. He’s maintained a near 100 per cent average in school – he’s made the Honour Roll every year – excelling at such diverse subjects as accounting, chemistry, biology, English, history and physical education. Why such drive? “I recognize the importance of it [high school] determining my future,” he said. “If I do well, hopefully it pays off down the road. I’m trying to think ahead.” Greer said he’s not sure what he’ll do after high school. “I might take a year off. I enjoy traveling so I might do a bit of that.” He said when he does settle on post-secondary school he’d like to attend Acadia University in Wolfville, N.S. He toured the campus recently and said he’s struck by its aesthetically pleasing layout and the small feel of the place. Iceton was recognized for her academic and community involvement achievements. She explained her hard work effort is because she wants to someday be a doctor. “Post-secondary is a big goal for me. I want to be a doctor and to get there I have to do well here,” she said. Iceton has made the Honour Roll at SCI each year and nabbed several subject awards for her success in such areas as French, English and math. Her community involvement for which she was recognized includes helping at Teddy Bears Picnic, a daycare in Creemore. Iceton said she volunteered there in Grade 9, 10 and for part of Grade 11. She also helped clean up sections of area roadways by volunteering through the Creemore Lions Club, when it was operational. She said she got involved through her mother, who was a member. That connection with the club also lead her to help with Santa Claus parades and Canada Day celebrations each year. Iceton is the current student council president at SCI and as a result has helped organize food drives at Thanksgiving and Christmas – with the donations being handed over to the Clearview-Stayner Food Bank.


Wilson to host breakfast with Hudak Saturday

Provincial Progressive Conservative leadership candidate Tim Hudak is making a stop in the riding for breakfast Saturday. Simcoe-Grey MPP Jim Wilson is hosting the breakfast for Hudak May 2 in Creemore. The stop is an opportunity for Hudak to listen to local concerns and speak about his plan to rebuild a prosperous Ontario. The breakfast will be at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 397 in Creemore, 27 Wellington St. W. and run from 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m., with the doors opening at 8 a.m. The event is open to the general public and breakfast will be provided. Wilson threw his support behind Hudak’s leadership bid earlier this month. Hudak has been an MPP for the Niagara area since 1995 and has been the official opposition finance critic since 2005.