Let Cam­bridge be Cam­bridge

Waterloo Region Record - - EDITORIALS & COMMENT -

There are a few hard truths that On­tario Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive of­fi­cials need to know about Cam­bridge if they hope to win there in the next pro­vin­cial elec­tion. It’s dif­fer­ent from other On­tario cities. It has its own iden­tity, is fiercely in­de­pen­dent and ex­pects to con­trol its own des­tiny.

One other thing: It doesn’t like out­siders telling it what to do.

If the PC brass un­der­stand all this, they’ll tread care­fully in the race to choose the next Tory can­di­date in Cam­bridge.

Many of the Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive faith­ful in the city sus­pect that party of­fi­cials are try­ing to para­chute into the rid­ing a can­di­date from Al­berta — an al­le­ga­tion the party firmly de­nies.

Yet those lo­cal con­cerns are real and in­ten­si­fied ear­lier this month when party of­fi­cials sud­denly an­nounced on a Fri­day that all nom­i­na­tion pa­pers had to be filed by the fol­low­ing Tues­day.

Rid­ing as­so­ci­a­tion mem­bers com­plained the dead­line was a month ear­lier than ex­pected and was lim­it­ing the field of can­di­dates.

As the con­tro­versy heated up, party head­quar­ters wisely scrapped the Septem­ber dead­line and al­lowed more time for hope­ful can­di­dates to step for­ward. The new dead­line for nom­i­na­tions has not been set. But there are lin­ger­ing wor­ries the party some­how favours Tanya Khat­tra, a den­tist who lives and works in Cal­gary.

Paul Brown, a for­mer Cam­bridge city coun­cil can­di­date, was a con­tender in the rid­ing’s PC nom­i­na­tion.

While he cited per­sonal rea­sons for bow­ing out of the race, he said he’s trou­bled by Khat­tra’s can­di­dacy.

Per­haps that’s be­cause on her can­di­date’s ap­pli­ca­tion, Khat­tra listed an ad­dress on New­port Drive in Cam­bridge as her home.

But un­til re­cently, she’s had no his­tory of res­i­dency or po­lit­i­cal in­volve­ment in Water­loo Region.

None of this means, of course, that high-rank­ing of­fi­cials at Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive head­quar­ters are pulling strings to get her nom­i­nated.

Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tives in Cam­bridge should re­al­ize that if she meets the party’s qual­i­fi­ca­tions Khat­tra has a right to run to be­come the city’s MPP. She de­serves to be judged on her mer­its. She might emerge as the party’s best op­tion.

As for the top PC pro­vin­cial of­fi­cials and party leader Pa­trick Brown, their best course of ac­tion is to let Cam­bridge Tories sort this out.

Of course, the leader pos­sesses the power to per­son­ally select the rid­ing’s can­di­date. But if that should ever be the plan, it should be done openly. More­over it would al­most cer­tainly dam­age the party’s chances to re­gain the seat it held be­fore the last elec­tion in 2014.

Some com­mu­ni­ties might be com­fort­able with a can­di­date hand­picked by a party’s lead­ers. Cam­bridge? Not likely. As we said ear­lier, it’s dif­fer­ent, the prod­uct of the amal­ga­ma­tion of Galt, Pre­ston and He­speler more than 40 years ago.

Peo­ple liv­ing north of High­way 401 — ex­cept in the He­speler part of the city — are gen­er­ally con­sid­ered out­siders.

Even though Cam­bridge is part of Water­loo Region, it of­ten re­sents de­ci­sions made at re­gional head­quar­ters in Kitch­ener.

It’s un­likely Cam­bridge vot­ers would re­act more kindly to a de­ci­sion made by PCs in Toronto.

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