Ready to con­tinue Brown’s work

The Recorder & Times (Brockville) - - FRONT PAGE - RON­ALD ZA­JAC

For the mo­ment, it’s about con­ti­nu­ity.

Michael Bar­rett, the newly elected MP for Leeds-Grenville-Thou­sand Is­lands and Rideau Lakes, plans to start on his new job by fol­low­ing up on the work so sadly in­ter­rupted by the sud­den death of his friend and Tory col­league Gord Brown in May.

A day af­ter his re­sound­ing by­elec­tion vic­tory, Bar­rett told The Recorder and Times be­ing elected is a hum­bling ex­pe­ri­ence.

“It’s all the more hum­bling to re­ceive the sup­port by the mar­gin that I re­ceived,” added Bar­rett.

The Con­ser­va­tive can­di­date and for­mer Ed­wards­burgh/Car­di­nal coun­cil­lor re­ceived 57.8 per cent of the vote, com­pared to 35.8 per cent for Lib­eral chal­lenger Mary Jean Mc­Fall.

Bar­rett planned to meet with the na­tional Con­ser­va­tive cau­cus on Wed­nes­day and work on set­ting up an of­fice on Par­lia­ment Hill, then look at of­fice space in the rid­ing the fol­low­ing day.

“My hope is that I’m able to en­sure con­ti­nu­ity,” said Bar­rett, adding he hopes to keep the staffers who worked for Brown and are fully versed on the late MP’s files.

Bar­rett at­tributed the mag­ni­tude of his vic­tory to two fac­tors.

The first is hard work, he said, not­ing he and his cam­paign vol­un­teers worked tire­lessly and knocked on thou­sands of doors across the rid­ing.

The sec­ond is wide­spread con­cern about the Trudeau gov­ern­ment’s fis­cal man­age­ment.

“We heard con­sis­tently that peo­ple are very ner­vous about (Prime Min­is­ter) Justin Trudeau’s deficit bud­get­ing and grow­ing our debt,” he said.

“Folks in this rid­ing, they spoke loud and clear on how they feel about the Trudeau Lib­er­als.”

Once he of­fi­cially as­sumes the ti­tle of MP, Bar­rett plans to check into what progress has been made in his pre­de­ces­sor’s ef­forts to se­cure com­pen­sa­tion for vic­tims of thalido­mide.

Bar­rett said gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials have said the money is in the works but this needs to be con­firmed.

An­other im­me­di­ate pri­or­ity is tar­iffs.

The in­com­ing MP added area busi­nesses are suf­fer­ing from re­cip­ro­cal tar­iffs im­posed by Ot­tawa on the United States in an on­go­ing trade dis­pute with the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Cana­di­ans have not seen the full im­pacts of con­ces­sions the Trudeau gov­ern­ment made in ne­go­ti­a­tions for the re­vised North Amer­i­can trade deal, in­clud­ing ef­fects on the lo­cally vi­tal agri­cul­tural sec­tor, said Bar­rett.

Canada’s re­cip­ro­cal tar­iffs have not had the de­sired per­sua­sive ef­fect on the Amer­i­cans, but in many cases are hurt­ing Cana­dian busi­nesses which may suf­fer tar­iff im­pacts both ways, be­ing hit first by Wash­ing­ton and then by Ot­tawa, he added.

Bar­rett hopes to speak to the ap­pro­pri­ate au­thor­i­ties about lift­ing Canada’s re­cip­ro­cal tar­iffs.

As Bar­rett re­mained hum­bled by a com­mand­ing vic­tory, Mc­Fall on Tues­day had yet to an­a­lyze fully the num­bers be­hind her de­feat.

In an in­ter­view Tues­day, Mc­Fall again con­grat­u­lated Bar­rett and said the cam­paign was con­ducted re­spect­fully.

“I’m sure he will do great things as mem­ber of par­lia­ment for our rid­ing.”

De­spite a drop in the Lib­er­als’ share of the lo­cal vote, Mc­Fall re­mains hope­ful the party will have a shot at vic­tory in the na­tional elec­tion to be held next Oc­to­ber.

None­the­less, her ini­tial re­ac­tion as the num­bers came in was to rec­og­nize the his­tor­i­cal po­lit­i­cal lean­ings of this rid­ing.

“We ex­pected to do well and my gut tells me that this rid­ing ... de­faults to blue, that’s for sure,” she said.

Still, she added, the rid­ing can some­times turn to red. Mc­Fall said she has given no thought to her im­me­di­ate fu­ture, or whether she might at­tempt a third run for the MP’s seat next year.

Her im­me­di­ate goal is to con­tinue con­tribut­ing to the com­mu­nity.

“It’s a great priv­i­lege to par­tic­i­pate in the demo­cratic process,” said Mc­Fall. “It’s what makes our coun­try great.”

Michael Bar­rett's chil­dren play with bal­loons af­ter their dad is elected MP. WAYNE LOWRIE/THE RECORDER AND TMES

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