By Bob Vrbanac
For the Post
Tracey Weiler was once again named the Ontario PC candidate for the Kitchener-Waterloo riding — a possible precursor to a spring election.
But the local businesswoman, volunteer and university instructor said the early nomination just reflects the work that she’s doing in the community and delivering the PC party’s message of change at Queen’s Park.
“We wanted to make sure the (PC party) is visible and are hearing the needs of the residents over the next couple of months,” said Weiler. “There’s no signal (of an early election call), it’s just given me the role officially so I can continue working on behalf of the party and community.”
There is work to do. Former Waterloo MPP Elizabeth Witmer held the riding for more than 22 years and she was a major political figure, serving in several key cabinet positions in the Mike Harris and Ernie Eves governments.
The Ontario PC party lost the seat in the September 2012 byelection by a healthy margin to former Waterloo Public School Board Chair Catherine Fife. Fife won the seat for the NDP with 41 per cent of the vote, while the Tories finished a distant second with 31 per cent of the vote.
But Weiler said the byelection was more a repudiation of the McGuinty government than a loss of a Tory stronghold.
“We really wanted to stop a Liberal majority,” said Weiler.
“And that came through loud and clear in the byelection and I think that was the key question, along with the broader goals for Ontario.”
She said local voters are still worried about jobs and the economy and the Ontario PCs have been unveiling a plan over the last 18 months that will change the culture at Queen’s Park.
“We need to focus on jobs and the economy,” said Weiler. “What will be different when we come to a provincial election is that the community will be choosing their local representative and they will also be choosing the government that can take them forward into the future.
“One of the things we’re hearing about the PC Party is that people want to hear about our plan. We’ve developed a series of white papers that we think are the tools for a conversation and we think are bold ideas that will take this province out of the mess it’s in.”
Some of the white papers released by PC Party leader Tim Hudak include controversial changes to Ontario labour laws. Weiler said the party’s Pathways to Prosperity plan demonstrates that the party has a platform in place and will run on it.
“Some of them are pretty bold,” said Weiler of the white papers that have been released. “Some of them are taking us into the 21st century and some of them are difficult decisions we’re going to have to make.
“That’s the foundation of our plan that we’ll eventually develop forward into our platform for the next provincial election. We’ve created something that we think will change this province and bring it forward and we have the plan to take us there.”