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Fight for R-N-P leadership continues

By Stephen Uhler, The Daily Observer

The Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke candidacy campaign continues to roll along.

With the deadline for obtaining party memberships now expired, the focus for both sitting MP Cheryl Gallant and her challenger Michael Coates turns to encouraging both new and established members to support them in the upcoming vote on Feb. 24 and 25.

Three locations have emerged where the party faithful can cast their ballots: Renfrew in the morning of Feb. 24, with Barry’s Bay following in the afternoon; and Pembroke on Feb. 25.

The times and locations of these balloting places will be revealed soon.

There has been some confusion over who has the authority to operate the nomination process, and whether it is run at the local level or directed from Ottawa’s party headquarters. Following a story printed in the Daily Observer in which Coates stated the process to hold a nomination is in the hands of a local candidate nomination committee, which is comprised of Gallant's executive, someone identifying herself as a member of the Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke Riding Association contacted the paper to say that wasn’t true.

“The riding association has absolutely nothing to do with it,” June Anderson said in a phone interview with The Daily Observer

January 30.

She explained times, dates and all things connected to this vote are determined by the CPC headquarters in Ottawa and have nothing to do with the nomination committee nor the current conservative MP.

However, in a copy of the Conservative Party 2017 Nomination Rules obtained by the Daily Observer, it clearly states that the Local Candidate Nomination Committee (CNC), who are all appointed by the local Electorial District Association president, are responsible to set the date, time, and locations of any nomination meeting or meetings.

In section 9(C), it states: “The CNC must meet no more than three days after the CNC has determined there has been no acclamation. At this meeting the CNC shall select the date, time and location of the Nomination Meeting(s). The Nomination Meeting(s) must occur no sooner than forty-two days and no later than fifty-four days from the Opening Notice.”

When interviewed Friday by phone, Coates was campaigning, travelling in the Combermere area. He said he knows the timing and locations of the polling sites, but for the time being is waiting for the party to release them officially. He did say if the information wasn’t out by Monday, he will release it himself.

Asked about the campaign itself, Coates said it was going great so far, noting based on what the people within the constituency he has been talking to have been telling him, there exists a real desire for


“After 18 years, people want someone focused on jobs and investment,” he said. “They like to have someone who has connections both within and outside the Ottawa Valley to help bring investment here, which will really help families here.”

Coates said the short campaign time has forced him and his team to work quickly, but it has been coming together well, and he now has champions in just about every locale within the riding.

“We only had 21 days to sell memberships, and now 25 days to get out the vote,” he said. What the team has lacked in time, though, they have made up for in enthusiasm.

Coates said Gallant has had a solid core of support all of these years which she has tapped into to maintain a hold on the riding.

“People here want to vote for the Conservatives, it is a Conservative riding,” he said. “I think the people here vote for the brand.”

However, Coates said there is a danger that can become stale over time.

“Politics is like a business,” he said. “If you don’t freshen up your brand every now and then, your opponent is going to get you.”

Meanwhile, Gallant has been quietly gathering her supporters to back her candidacy. The Campaign Life Coalition, on its own, has been circulating an ad on Facebook declaring their support, urging all pro-life supporters to come out and vote for her.

Coates said he is looking forward to the Feb. 24-25 vote, which will determine who the MP will be in the Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke. The contest will be a great rehearsal for the 2019 federal election.

“Now we’re going to find out how much support she really has,” he said. 

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