Four candidates are vying for the Conservative Party nomination in Parry Sound-Muskoka

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Four people from across Muskoka and Parry Sound are vying to be the Conservative candidate for this riding in the upcoming federal election.

Scott Aitchison (Huntsville), Alan Fraser (Bracebridge), Meghan Shannon (MacTier), and Holly Thompson (Bala) have all been campaigning to represent the Conservative Party for Parry Sound-Muskoka. Former Conservative MP Tony Clement, who now sits as an independent, announced in April that he would not seek re-election.

In the absence of an official all-candidates meeting organized by the local riding association, the campaign team for Scott Aitchison arranged unofficial meetings across the region, including one at the Huntsville Legion on June 26, for party members to meet and talk with the nominees.

The Huntsville meeting was the best attended so far, said Aitchison. He and Fraser answered questions from the crowd of about 60 people. Shannon and Thompson were not present.

Conservative nominees Alan Fraser (left) and Scott Aitchison at a meet-the-candidates event at the Huntsville Legion on June 26. Meghan Shannon and Holly Thompson were not present.

Conservative nominees Alan Fraser (left) and Scott Aitchison at a meet-the-candidates event at the Huntsville Legion on June 26. Meghan Shannon and Holly Thompson were not present.

In advance of the meeting, Huntsville Doppler invited all of the nominees to respond to four questions. These were their answers (in alphabetical order) followed by a brief bio for each.

1. Why do you think you are the best candidate to represent the Conservative Party in Parry Sound-Muskoka?

Scott Aitchison
Our candidate will have to articulate the message of our party and must demonstrate the ability to effectively debate issues with opposing candidates. Our candidate must not overreact to the attacks of the other parties while continuing to share our positive message. I have demonstrated these abilities many times in municipal elections. I am the most effective public speaker and debater of the four candidates and I have the experience required to win.

Alan Fraser
I have the experience and education to represent the constituents of Parry Sound-Muskoka as the Member of Parliament. I am familiar with the institutions of the federal government. As a lawyer, my skills are directly applicable to the role of MP. Working on complex, international investment disputes has exposed me to unique experiences that are directly applicable as an MP. As a volunteer and director of a charity, I have worked with the Canadian Forces and the Department of National Defence to support Canadian Forces families obtain post-secondary education. Furthermore, I grew up in Bracebridge. I’m a local candidate who understands the challenges and successes the constituents face in the riding. I have worked in a local small business that has operated in the constituency for 30 years. This combination of experience and education will assist me in ensuring that the interests of Parry Sound-Muskoka are well-represented in Ottawa.

Meghan Shannon
I believe that my educational background and work experience, combined with my personal knowledge of this area, makes me the ideal candidate to represent the Conservative Party in Parry Sound-Muskoka. The work I’ve done over the past decade, researching and consulting with rural communities in Canada on issues pertaining to small business, resource management and economic diversification, makes me a highly qualified candidate to serve the riding. Earning a PhD in the field of rural economic development required collaboration and consultation with all levels of government, and the civic and private sectors, which is incredibly important when working towards solving local issues. My experience managing a non-profit agency and advocating on behalf of youth makes me a well-rounded candidate; able to work with a diverse population with differing needs.

Holly Thompson
Did not respond
Update June 28: Doppler received a late reply today from Holly Thompson’s campaign office. For details on where she stands regarding issues affecting Parry Sound-Muskoka, please contact her campaign office via her website. (Link in the bio below.)

2. What federal issue do you think most resonates with the people in this area?

Scott Aitchison
Housing. The housing issue in Parry Sound-Muskoka is a social and economic challenge. Lack of housing affects businesses who cannot find people to fill open positions because the employees they attract cannot find a place to live that they can afford and there are too many people in our communities who are struggling to find adequate housing to rent or to purchase.

Alan Fraser
There are several pressing issues in the riding. Affordable housing is an issue that arises time and again at the all-candidates meetings. Having a home is imperative for anyone wishing to maintain a sustained and well-paying job. If you have no home to return to, how can a primary income earner maintain a job? How can a young family survive? Without a home, constituents can end up couch surfing. The lack of affordable housing can lead to more serious societal issues including substance and alcohol abuse. Affordable housing and economic development are interconnected. Parry Sound-Muskoka requires an MP who will work with all three levels of government to implement an affordable housing strategy—a strategy where the federal government is present at the discussion table with innovative ideas and funding.

Meghan Shannon
Through extensive traveling across the riding, knocking on hundreds of doors and meeting with many community leaders, I am hearing a broad range of issues that are important to the residents of Parry Sound-Muskoka.  These include a host of issues relating to regional economic development, housing, conservation, supporting seniors, affordability and the cost of living, and defending our freedoms—for example, the right to lawfully own firearms.

Holly Thompson
Did not respond
Update June 28: Doppler received a late reply today from Holly Thompson’s campaign office. For details on where she stands regarding issues affecting Parry Sound-Muskoka, please contact her campaign office via her website. (Link in the bio below.)

3. What in your party’s platform do you not agree with? Why?

Scott Aitchison
I agree with the party platform.

Alan Fraser
Choosing a political affiliation—a right which some might take for granted—is not something to be taken lightly. I am running for the Conservative nomination in Parry Sound-Muskoka and as such I must support the policies of my party. However, the Conservative Party, in Section 7 of its Policy Declaration, explicitly highlights the importance of free votes. This principle ensures that democratic accountability and my ability to represent the constituents of Parry Sound-Muskoka is not restricted by party politics. I would encourage anyone wishing to debate or change the platform to get involved in party politics. We need more young people involved in our democratic institutions and decision-making.

Meghan Shannon
As a delegate at the 2018 Conservative National Convention, I voted on many policies found in the party platform—a platform to which I support.

Holly Thompson
Did not respond
Update June 28: Doppler received a late reply today from Holly Thompson’s campaign office. For details on where she stands regarding issues affecting Parry Sound-Muskoka, please contact her campaign office via her website. (Link in the bio below.)

4. If elected, what will you do for this riding?

Scott Aitchison
If elected, I will continue in the manner I have executed the office of Mayor Huntsville—I will work hard everyday to help make life better for all the people of Parry Sound-Muskoka.

Alan Fraser
The constituency of Parry Sound-Muskoka has had excellent representation over the decades, whether it was Stan Darling, Andy Mitchell, or Tony Clement. Our Members of Parliament have served our community well. As your Member of Parliament, I will continue this dedication to the community, ensuring that I represent all of the voices of Parry Sound-Muskoka. Your MP should be accessible and I promise to make myself available to the constituents. But beyond just being a visible and responsive MP, I want to ensure that issues concerning affordable housing, economic development, the opioid crisis and the protection of the environment are addressed. I have had the opportunity to grow up in the constituency. I would like to give back to the community that gave me the foundation for success.

Meghan Shannon
If elected, I will be accessible, work hard, and listen to the needs of the entire community. I intend to work with all levels of government, business leaders, community groups, hard –working families, and all individuals in the riding, on the issues that matter the most to them.

Holly Thompson
Did not respond
Update June 28: Doppler received a late reply today from Holly Thompson’s campaign office. For details on where she stands regarding issues affecting Parry Sound-Muskoka, please contact her campaign office via her website. (Link in the bio below.)

Bios

Scott Aitchison

In 1994 at the age of 21, Scott Aitchison became the youngest individual ever elected to Huntsville Town Council and Muskoka District Council. Throughout his service Scott has been a member and chaired numerous committees. In 2014 he was elected as Mayor. In 2018 he was re-elected as Mayor. Scott has focused on financial responsibility, citizen engagement, economic development and job creation. Also on sustainability, attainable housing and healthcare. (From huntsville.ca. Learn more at facebook.com/CPCCandidate)

 

Alan Fraser

I grew up in Bracebridge. I attended Monck Public School for grade school and Bracebridge and Muskoka Lakes Secondary School for high school. For the last thirty years, my father has proudly operated a small business in Bracebridge. My mother is a retired healthcare professional who cared for the elderly in Muskoka. I have lived in the riding year-round. I know what it is like to grow up in the riding: the challenges and the opportunities. After completing my political science and history undergraduate degree at Trinity College, University of Toronto, I attended the University of Edinburgh for my Bachelor of Laws. I returned home to Muskoka for a period of time to work in my family’s small business. More recently, I completed the Global Professional Master of Laws at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law. For the last two years, I have worked in the financial services industry. (From alanfraser.ca)

 

Meghan Shannon

I was born and raised in the beautiful community of MacTier. After graduating from Parry Sound High School, I attended the University of Guelph and the University of Waterloo where I earned a Master’s Degree and a PhD in the field of Rural Economic Development. While completing my education, I took a position as the manager of a youth shelter that housed young adults battling addiction, trauma, and mental health issues. I’ve now come home to represent the great people who live in this riding. (Submitted. Learn more at meghanshannon2019.ca.)

 

Holly Thompson

I have always felt a deep connection to Parry Sound-Muskoka, and have spent a lot of my life in Bala. My family has been in Bala for five generations. I got married to my wonderful husband Mike in Bala. I earned my first pay-cheque in Bala, and earned many more over the years working from Gravenhurst to Port Sydney… I’m a graduate of the Smith School of Business at Queen’s University, following which I worked at the accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers for the last 8 years. I recently departed PricewaterhouseCoopers as a Vice-President in order to pursue the nomination to work for you. As an accountant, fiscal responsibility is my priority when it comes to solving just about any problem… I am a lifelong conservative. I’ve been the CFO and sat on the board of local riding associations. I’ve played an active role in federal and provincial conservative campaigns across Ontario… (From hollythompson.ca)


The Conservative nomination vote for Parry Sound-Muskoka will take place on July 7 in Bracebridge. Of the other major parties in the region, two have already selected candidates for this election—Trisha Cowie was acclaimed for the Liberals on May 8; Tom Young was acclaimed for the NDP on June 23. The Green Party has not yet announced a candidate for Parry Sound-Muskoka.

The federal election is currently scheduled for October 21, 2019.

Watch for more coverage about all of the federal candidates in Parry Sound-Muskoka on Huntsville Doppler in the coming months.

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10 Comments

  1. Where’s Holly….Hiding out with Waldo ?… Can’t​ vote for what you can’t see ! P.S….Great meeting in Huntsville !

    • Bill – it helps if the questions are sent to the campaign account which is monitored. Not some other address that might be personal and not monitored for this sort of thing.

      I put it down to bad polling – once aware of this – it was handled. Once again, candidates finding out about happenings after they are posted publicly.

      • Dawn Huddlestone on

        Donald,
        Our message was sent to the email address from which we have received all correspondence from Ms. Thompson’s campaign, and the same email address that was included as part of the contact information listed in media releases sent to us ([email protected]). It was not a personal address and, if not being monitored, we’d suggest it not be included in campaign materials.
        Dawn Huddlestone, Managing Editor, Huntsville Doppler

  2. My answers to the questions are set out below:

    Why do you think you are the best candidate to represent the Conservative Party in Parry Sound-Muskoka?

    I am financially experienced with professional accounting qualifications. My financial restructuring practice at PricewaterhouseCoopers directly addresses many of the financial challenges facing our riding and our Country.

    I have deep roots in PSM and in the Conservative Party. We have run an ideas driven campaign and have published an economic development plan for Parry Sound – Muskoka as well as addressing a new water quality and flood control plan – each calls for federal leadership.

    We have built a deep campaign organization. As an individual I am hard working, energetic and full of ideas which have been getting a great response in our comprehensive door knocking campaign.

    What federal issue do you think most resonates with the people in this area?

    Economic development is a critical issue as we need more jobs to retain/attract families to live/work here. Our campaign released an economic blueprint on June 20th, 2019 outlining plans to make the riding more attractive and affordable. We advocate investing in alternative energy, infrastructure renewal and construction technology as well as in training to broaden the workforce.

    Affordable housing is key to enhancing supply for a growing cohort of seniors. We advocate utilizing federal resources like the CMHC to consider fresh approaches like a new housing agency, modeled on the Whistler Housing Authority, with a mandate to generate new housing for families, seniors and seasonal workers.

    Healthcare is critical as approximately 43% of our district’s population is over 55. Canadian spending on healthcare last year exceeded $250B. I will advocate for a review of the principles in the Canada Health Act to address prescription costs, home care and long-term care.

    What in your party’s platform do you not agree with? Why?

    Federal Conservatives have made good progress in defining policy and principles ahead of the October election on topics including the economy, foreign policy, immigration and the environment. I agree with these policy outlines and will work hard to help round out platform details and their financial foundation.

    If elected, what will you do for this riding?

    My focus is improving economic and social conditions. Median employment income here is $27,000 and for Ontario, $34,000. We must build small business, our lifeblood: 83% of our businesses have fewer than 5 employees. We need less red-tape, technical training and tax reform. My professional training and experience makes me a champion for small business prosperity.

    I will provide federal leadership to enhance living and working conditions: like a flood management plan to protect water quality. We want to ensure our riding’s natural beauty is maintained as we have 3 million visitors spending $500 million every year.

    We need to help seniors, as 43% of district residents are over 55. We need affordable solutions to housing and long-term care. I am by nature and background a team leader and consensus-builder – our campaign team illustrates those qualities. I am determined to put our team to work to serve our riding.

    Holly

  3. Karen Wehrstein on

    Story should be edited to include Holly’s answers from the comments, or at least to say that they are in the comments.
    .
    Dear Candidates: you ALL should do more research on the climate crisis, its worsening trajectory and how it will affect us if nothing is done. And when I say “how it will affect us” I don’t mean just “what happens to Muskoka if we get hotter or more extreme weather”. I mean “what happens if global weather causes civilization worldwide to collapse”. Do more research and you will see what I mean.

  4. Murray Christenson on

    I find it somewhat disappointing that the riding association doesn’t arrange and support nomination candidates meetings. However, kudos to Scott Aitchison for taking the initiative to set up a series of these throughout the riding. Personally, I welcomed the chance to have a one on one conversation with the two candidates that did show up and see how they perform in front of a live group. I felt the get together in Huntsville was informative and productive and again, thanks to both Scott and Allan for participating.

  5. Now I understand why the Mayor has changed from “when elected” (in a past Doppler), to “if elected”. These other 3 candidates are all extremely well qualified to represent us

    • Bev Fraser-LeDrew on

      We, in PS-M, are very fortunate to have four strong candidates running for Tony’s position. On paper, they are all saying the appropriate things and expressing good ideas. However a MP must be able to do much more than that! Our candidate must be able to think quickly on his/her feet, be able to handle questions on policy etc., be outgoing and personable … After all, if you are avoiding a meeting with your friendly Conservative friends, what will happen to you when you must come up against the opposition candidates in an election debate ? I realize the meetings were arranged at the last minute. Thank goodness they were because otherwise we would not have had the opportunity to see our candidates “in action”! I suppose it is a matter of setting priorities, but if candidates believe that all they have to do is meet people in their homes, I believe they are missing a huge opportunity to ‘show their stuff’ in a different setting. Hopefully all four candidates will be able to come to the meet the candidates meeting in Parry Sound at the Bobby Orr on July 2nd, 7-9. See you there!

  6. Jane MacLennan on

    Scott’s campaign deliberately sent out an invite to the members for a “Meet the Candidates” series of events without consultation with or permission from the other candidates. They were first informed by his blast email. Both Megan and Holly stated in return emails June 20 that they would not be attending these “Scott” campaign events as they had their own schedules.

    It should be made abundantly clear that these ‘candidate meetings’ were set solely by Scott’s campaign without consulting or permission from the other candidates about dates and availability. In fact, Scott admitted to my husband that this was a deliberate tactic to put pressure on the other candidates. This does not show Scott to be a collaborative team player – in our opinion.

    Doppler exacerbated this situation by stating that Holly Thompson and Megan Shannon did not attend these Scott campaign “Meet the Candidate” events and did not explain to readers that both had their own “Meet with Members” agendas. For Scott to continue to advertise these as “meet the candidates” meetings was misleading and unethical in our opinion.

    In fact, it is the local riding which has failed its members and these candidates by not organizing an independent “Meet the Candidates” for them to demonstrate their knowledge of federal policy issues as well as local needs.

    Lastly, I agree with the other comment, that you should have published the questions with “all” the candidates responses instead of burying Holly’s answers in the comments. You have specifically stated she did not respond when in fact she did respond but not to your time table. You owe her an apology and a full printing of her responses along with the others’.

    I am truly disappointed in Scott, Doppler and the local Riding for failing the Conservative Party members in this nomination process.

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