Despite earlier reports, Richard Mahoney may not have been “encouraged” to run in my riding, Pontiac, by Stéphane Dion. Either way, he won’t be the Liberal candidate here: he was defeated by local farmer Cindy Duncan McMillan at the federal Liberal nomination meeting yesterday. Ms. Duncan McMillan didn’t come out of nowhere: she’s long been active in Quebec farm organizations; I remember covering a local farmers’ meeting in September 2003 (it was about the beef crisis) at which she spoke in her capacity as president of the Quebec Farmers Association.
To be honest, I’m relieved that we have a local candidate rather than an urban parachute (or, as I put it when I heard the news, “urban sloppy seconds” — Mahoney had lost twice as the Liberal candidate in Ottawa Centre).
But Mahoney himself, while no doubt a fine candidate on his home turf, presented certain problems. I was very concerned when I read, in last week’s Pontiac Journal, that Mahoney was not only anglophone (not a problem), but unilingual — and despite the large English-speaking presence in this riding, it’s still three-quarters francophone. Only the folks around Shawville — which, for better or for worse, is essentially Diefenbaker country — would not care about that, and they’ll be voting Conservative. Additionally, the fact that he’s a cottager here would not necessarily endear him to the year-round residents.
So, hats off to Cindy Duncan McMillan. Whether she stands a chance against Lawrence Cannon remains to be seen, but at least she won’t be carrying the baggage of either a parachute candidate or of the previous Liberal MP, who got into a mess of controversy over contracts awarded to his private company.