Little red riding

Liberal nomination meeting set for Nov. 7

Speaker of the House and MP of Kingston and the Islands Peter Milliken will leave office after an election is called.
Speaker of the House and MP of Kingston and the Islands Peter Milliken will leave office after an election is called.
Credit: 
Journal File Photo
Queen’s University Liberal Association endorses candidate Bill Flanagan as Liberal nominee for MP of Kingston and the Islands.
Queen’s University Liberal Association endorses candidate Bill Flanagan as Liberal nominee for MP of Kingston and the Islands.
Credit: 
Supplied

The future of Kingston and the Island’s Liberal riding will be determined this Sunday when eligible Liberal Party members vote for one of five candidates to replace Speaker of the House and MP Peter Milliken in the nomination meeting for MP.

After serving Kingston and the Islands for 22 years, Milliken, ArtSci ’68, announced on June 26 that he wouldn’t seek re-election. Milliken will remain the MP and Speaker for the riding until the next federal election is called and Parliament is dissolved.

Ron Hartling, president of the Kingston and the Islands Liberals said that although Milliken will certainly be missed, a new MP should be able to engage more in partisan issues, something Milliken was unable to do because of his additional role as Speaker of the House.

For the 39 years prior to Milliken’s Speaker’s claim, Kingston has always had an MP that has been of ministerial caliber, meaning that if their party goes into government, the MP would be selected for Cabinet, Hartling said. Because Milliken has been Speaker of the House for the past nine years, he has been unable to be selected for Cabinet.

“Kingstonians aren’t used to having a back bencher. They are used to having someone of quality to be selected for cabinet,” Hartling said.

Five candidates, Bill Flanagan, Bittu George, Phillip Osanic, Harvey Rosen and Ted Tsu, are hoping to become the Liberal nominee for Kingston and the Islands MP.

Hartling said all Liberal members who registered with the party on or before Oct. 14 can vote at the nomination meeting. The voting will be done via preferential ballot, which essentially means voters rank all candidates in order to prevent a majority in the first round, he said.

“Once the Liberal candidate is selected, we’ll be out getting them established in the minds of voters,” Hartling said. “He’ll be working to establish himself and speak out on the issues he will push if elected.”

Hartling must remain strictly neutral in the nomination meeting due to his role as president, but he said the future of the Liberal riding is looking to be very promising—especially since he said he expects the riding to remain a Liberal stronghold.

“We’ve got a great constituency office, and especially with the prison farm issue, we’ve really seen a crystallization of opinion in Kingston that Harper has to go. I know a few NDP and Green Party members that have signed up for a Liberal membership,” Hartling said.

Scott Matthews is an assistant professor in the political studies department. Though he has no involvment with the nomination race, he said he agrees that Kingston is likely to remain a liberal riding.

“A lot of people are involved in the association. The political tea leaves are not showing a run to the conservative party in big numbers,” Matthews said.

Milliken was very prominent in Ottawa, Matthews said, but because he hasn’t been in Cabinet, he has been unable to be as influential in Kingston.

“The issue is that in the system, our MPs don’t have influence on policy outside of Cabinet, generally speaking,” Matthews said, adding that although he’s a member of the party, he is unsure whether or not he’ll be voting in the Liberal nomination meeting on Sunday.

He said that from the perspective of the Liberal party, it’s important that the candidate elected has the ability to campaign effectively, stay on message and connect with the community.

“They need to be able to organize voters and get them out on election day. Although many people rush to the polls, there are some people who really need candidates to knock on their doors and drag them out to the polls,” he said.

For profiles of all five Liberal nominees, please see Friday’s Journal.

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