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Friday, April 28, 2017

Hepworth to Host Conservative Hopefuls

Hepworth | by Claire McCormack  

Local MP Larry Miller expects to see candidates grilled on rural issues at barbecue debate.

It'll likely be the high-profile barbecue of the year in Hepworth.

While burgers and hot dogs are held over flames, Federal Conservative leadership candidates will be grilled by party members at the showcase and debate barbecue at the Hepworth-Shallow Lake Legion.

Party members will get the chance to submit questions and meet the substantial lineup of candidates.

As of April 26th, the following of the 14 main candidates have confirmed:Kellie Leitch, Lisa Raitt, Chris Alexander, Michael Chong, Pierre Lemieux,  Erin O'Toole, Andrew Scheer and Andrew Saxton.

Sharon Norton, Chair of the Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound Conservative Association says Rick Peterson had hoped to attend, but had a scheduling change.Kevin O'Leary had planned to attend but dropped out of the contest this week.

Meanwhile Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound Conservative MP Larry Miller will be there.

Miller says he hasn't endorsed a specific candidate and he doesn't intend to.

He says his main criteria for supporting a candidate is whether or not they can beat Justin Trudeau in 2019.

"There's definitely some of the candidates who can, and I think there's definitely some who can't."

Miller says in his opinion, the candidates with the strongest chances are Lisa Raitt, Michael Chong, Erin O'Toole and Andrew Scheer.

But Miller says, for him, it's a chance to get to know some of the other candidates better, adding he plans to stay open-minded and weigh all the pros and cons of any policies that would affect the riding.

He's confident rural issues in general will be a big component of the debate and barbecue.

Miller says for example, support for rural infrastructure "is non-existent with this government."    

Another hot issue for Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound according to Miller is firearms law, "There's a large percentage of our riding who like to hunt and fish. They just basically want to be left alone, they're law abiding people."

Miller, whose own private member's bill on classifying firearms was defeated in the house of commons last fall, feels Erin O'Toole has a very common sense platform on the subject.

As for the current government, Miller says the Liberals acknowledged something needed to be done about firearms and their classification, but notes he hasn't seen any action on the government's part.

Other issues he thinks will come up include the carbon tax which he says people are very opposed to, adding he feels they're very "opposed to any tax."

Miller says Michael Chong is the only candidate who has supported a carbon tax but says he's interested in Chong's idea of offsetting it with income tax cuts.

Ultimately, Miller thinks people will be interested to hear what the candidates have to say, "I think a lot of conservatives and not just conservatives... I think people in general--- because we're hearing that even a lot of people who probably didn't like Stephen Harper and didn't like everything that we did, they're not happy with Justin Trudeau right now and they're looking for options."

The vote for the next leader of the Federal Conservative party will take place on May 27th.

The gathering will take place May 6th at the Hepworth-Shallow Lake Royal Canadian Legion in Hepworth, beginning at 2 PM. Dinner will be at 4:30 PM.

Tickets to the barbecue are $150 (tax deductible) and can be obtained by calling 519-372-0011 or by emailing


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