Peter Kent’s ruff, ruff ride

13 Apr

Thornhill Conservative incumbent weathered a full-on attack by rival candidates in Sunday's debate.

My first reaction when reporter Tristan Carter told me that Peter Kent was given a rough ride at Sunday’s all-candidates debate in Thornhill was: “Really? Peter Kent? The Peter Kent?”

What has Peter Kent, one of the nicest guys you’ll meet in politics (if not on the street), ever done to invite the wrath of anyone? Steal a bite out of someone else’s apple when he was in Grade 3, perhaps?

Well, actually, it was the rival candidates, and not the crowd of some 500 gathered at Beth Avraham Yoseph Synagogue, who gave him a hard time. And it’s his position as Minister of the Environment in Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative government that brought the activist element of those opponents out with guns blazing. Or, as NDP candidate Simon Strelchik puts it, his record as Harper’s environment minister.

For the record, he has been in that cabinet post only since January, so his personal legacy as to decision-making on environmental issues would be limited. It is most likely that it was Peter Kent the Conservative and not Peter Kent the environment minister — and especially not Peter Kent the local candidate — who came under fire. He was grilled on all sides for the Harper government’s position on mining crude oil deposits in the Alberta tar sands, issues well outside the scope of immediate concern for the average Thornhill voter.

This is further evidence that this election is about issues other than things local. In fact, Liz White, of the Animal Alliance Environment Voters of Canada Party, told VaughanToday.ca that she threw her hat into the ring in Thornhill for one reason: an opportunity to run against Kent.

“I decided to run there to … see if we can move some votes away from him to somebody else, so he loses,” she said.

White, who, à la Elizabeth May, has run twice before in impossible-to-win Toronto Centre, was not invited to participate in the Sunday debate, but will make her debut in a locally televised debate Thursday night.

Situations where self-serving individuals pick a riding — any riding — and stride into unsuspecting communities with pillage and not contribution on their minds, serve to weaken, not strengthen, my faith in democracy as we practise it here. It is conceivable that one day a crazy roll of the dice will see one of these rabble-rousing, single-issue candidates pitch a tent in my riding — and win the right to become my esteemed parliamentary representative!

Now is not a good time to remind me of my “duty” to vote on May 2.

— Dan Hoddinott

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2 Responses to “Peter Kent’s ruff, ruff ride”

  1. Vish April 15, 2011 at 3:37 PM #

    Perhpas if this writer was actually at the debate, he could’ve written a more informed article, instead of relying on third-party accounts, i.e. what Tristan Carter told him. As someone who attended the debate, this is clearly an uninformed, sad excuse for an account of what happened to M. Kent at the debate. Peter Kent was the most abrasive and aggressive, setting the tone for the debate in his opening speech. Peter Kent was the candidate who repeated conservative talking points to the public and publicly disrupted candidates while they were speaking. Peter Kent was the candidate who told the voters with such contempt that the other parties are not going to win, nor do they want to. If Peter Kent is one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet in politics, and one of the nicest guys Dan has ever met- I’d hate to see who the meanest guy is. I really would.

    • James April 16, 2011 at 6:03 PM #

      I would absolutely agree with Vish’s comment.

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