MPP, city coun­cil­lor team up for Lib­er­als

Long­time Grit Ted McMeekin will run again in 2018; Coun. Judi Par­tridge eyes neigh­bour­ing rid­ing

The Hamilton Spectator - - FRONT PAGE - MATTHEW VAN DON­GEN

TED MCMEEKIN and Judi Par­tridge want to play on the same pro­vin­cial Lib­eral team next year de­spite some no­table po­lit­i­cal dis­agree­ments. Hamil­ton’s lone Lib­eral MPP Ted McMeekin ended more than a year of spec­u­la­tion about his po­lit­i­cal fu­ture Fri­day by an­nounc­ing he would run for re-elec­tion in 2018.

The 69-year-old rep­re­sents An­caster-Dun­das-Flam­bor­ough-West­dale now but will run next year in a new Hamil­ton West-An­caster-Dun­das rid­ing cre­ated to mir­ror fed­eral elec­tion bor­ders.

At the same Fri­day event, Ward 15 Coun. Judi Par­tridge sur­prised some po­lit­i­cal ob­servers by an­nounc­ing she would seek the Lib­eral nom­i­na­tion in the new rid­ing of Flam­bor­ough-Glan­brook.

“We’re do­ing a num­ber of big things and I want to see them through,” said McMeekin, who ac­knowl­edged spec­u­la­tion he would re­tire from pol­i­tics but

ex­plained he wanted to see through “le­gacy projects” like the Ran­dle Reef cleanup, poverty-fight­ing ini­tia­tives and the $1-bil­lion light rail tran­sit project planned for Main and King streets in Hamil­ton.

Par­tridge voted against that con­tentious, provin­cially funded LRT project at coun­cil and con­firmed Fri­day she re­mains per­son­ally op­posed. “I haven’t changed my stance … but it is coun­cil’s de­ci­sion,” she said.

The Flam­bor­ough coun­cil­lor also said she was “not en­tirely in sup­port … on a broad scale” of the Lib­eral govern­ment’s con­tro­ver­sial de­ci­sion to sell off part of pub­lic util­ity Hy­dro One.

But Par­tridge added she does sup­port the ra­tio­nale for the de­ci­sion on the “lo­cal scale” given the need to raise cash for ma­jor in­fra­struc­ture projects — in­clud­ing Hamil­ton’s light rail plan. “You can’t be against hy­dro sell-off and for LRT be­cause they re­ally do go hand in hand,” she said.

Dif­fer­ences of opin­ion are not a deal-breaker, said the pro-LRT McMeekin. “It’s a big tent (party),” he said.

Par­tridge cheer­fully la­belled her­self a “blue Lib­eral” Fri­day and noted she was also ap­proached about a pos­si­ble elec­tion run for the Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tives. But she said her de­ci­sion to run for the Lib­eral nom­i­na­tion came down to con­sid­er­ing which party best re­flected her “per­sonal val­ues.”

Par­tridge said she wants to work “from the in­side” on pro­vin­cial leg­is­la­tion that af­fects small busi­ness, farm­ers and other ru­ral Hamil­to­ni­ans. On hy­dro, she said she would push to al­low ru­ral Hamil­ton cus­tomers to be served by the new Hori­zon-turned-Alec­tra util­ity, rather than Hy­dro One.

While the Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tives con­tinue to lead in opin­ion polls, both McMeekin and Par­tridge ex­pressed con­fi­dence in the gov­ern­ing party’s abil­ity to bounce back.

McMeekin ad­mit­ted Fri­day he pre­vi­ously con­sid­ered leav­ing pol­i­tics af­ter bat­tling can­cer twice and vol­un­tar­ily step­ping down from cab­i­net in 2016 to en­cour­age gen­der par­ity. The vet­eran politi­cian has served as an MPP, mayor of Flam­bor­ough and city al­der­man dat­ing back to 1977. But McMeekin said his health is good and he’s re­ceived a “thumbs up” on his de­ci­sion to run again from his doc­tor, his wife Bar­bara and Pre­mier Kath­leen Wynne, whom he serves as a spe­cial par­lia­men­tary as­sis­tant. “I’ve just gotta do it,” he said.

Lib­eral nom­i­na­tion meet­ings for both rid­ings will hap­pen in Au­gust.

The pro­vin­cial elec­tion will be held in June of next year, with a mu­nic­i­pal elec­tion fol­low­ing in the fall.

Par­tridge said if nom­i­nated, she in­tends to keep up her city coun­cil du­ties while cam­paign­ing for a pro­vin­cial seat. She added if she is not elected provin­cially in June, she will run for mu­nic­i­pal re-elec­tion.

McMeekin is ex­pected to face off against Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive can­di­date Ben Le­vitt, a con­stituency as­sis­tant for fed­eral Con­ser­va­tive MP David Sweet.

Le­vitt’s nom­i­na­tion win is be­ing con­tested by two los­ing can­di­dates who have taken the po­lit­i­cal party to court, al­leg­ing ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties and voter fraud.

Ted McMeekin and Judi Par­tridge an­nounced Fri­day at Dy­ment’s mar­ket in Flam­bor­ough they will run for Lib­er­als.

BARRY GRAY, THE HAMIL­TON SPEC­TA­TOR

Ted McMeekin has served as a city coun­cil­lor, mayor, MPP and cab­i­net min­is­ter dur­ing po­lit­i­cal ca­reer.

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