MP says he has lots of friends and colleagues on the municipal scene, but that it doesn’t amount to a ‘team Brown.’
Patrick Brown is Barrie’s federal representative, and plies his trade in the halls of power in Ottawa. But he remains a ubiquitous presence on the local stage; his influence is seen and felt in local politics, and in local fundraising activities, like the popular Hockey Night In Barrie.
He readily admits to having a lot of friends and colleagues involved in the local municipal scene, and to offering assistance to at least one candidate in the municipal election, Jennifer Robinson, the winner in Ward 8.
In Ward 1, Bonnie Ainsworth, his campaign chair and former member of staff (she resigned during the campaign) ran against Kevin Richards, “who is on my board of directors.” Ainsworth won.
“Rob Jackson and Doug Shipley (Ward 3) were on my board of directors, and they were running against each other.” Shipley defeated the incumbent, Jackson. In Ward 5, Michael Tuck and Peter Silveira (both also on his board of directors) ran against each other. Silveira won the ward.
“I had so many friends running against each other in every ward that I was hesitant to get involved (but) I did follow it closely. I always find municipal elections fascinating, but with the exception of Jennifer Robinson I really did try to stay out of it.”
“I’ve never asked any municipal councillor for their support … I would never do that. The only thing that I encourage is that they work hard.
“I think the fact that Conservatives have tended to be a lot stronger in this area probably is the reason why we’ve seen more conservative-minded people in elected offices at different levels of government. We won the last federal election by 15,000 votes, more than every party combined, and I think that’s the reason why you tend to see more Conservatives involved – by the mere simple fact that there are more Conservatives around in Barrie.
“I would tell you this. I think anyone at city council right now (makes) their decisions solely on what’s best for Barrie, and partisan considerations are irrelevant.”
Brown says that in his view, the municipal election campaign kicks into high gear the first Tuesday after Labour Day.
“My rule of thumb is that I don’t do any joint events, I don’t do any mailings that would reference a municipal councillor. The one exception was in Ward 8 where Jennifer Robinson was running, and she had asked me for my support very early on. She had been such an incredible volunteer for RVH – every time I had asked for help on any charitable event, she was always the first to say yes.
“I thought the world of her, and I did make a commitment that I would support her. Even when one of my own staff members (Alison Eadie) ran for that ward, I didn’t want to break the word I had made.”
Eadie, says Brown, has returned to her position on his team as his executive assistant.
He says he has high hopes for Robinson, indicating they are already working on a couple of projects.
“On Dec. 11 we are organizing a charity family skate, and we’re also having a fundraising lunch for Innisdale Secondary School, where they have the Youth Ambassadorship program, which unfortunately is in deficit. Jennifer and I have managed to solicit some NHL alumni, and The Barrie Colts too, for a fundraising lunch.”
The MP says that anyone who knows him, or has followed his political career, is well aware of his activism on the local level, citing his opposition to the ethanol plant that had been proposed for the grounds of the old Molson brewery, and his efforts to attract doctors to the city, as examples of that local involvement.
“When it comes to doctor recruitment, that’s not my level of government – I get involved because I know it’s (a concern) I’ve heard at the doorsteps in Barrie. I will continue to do that … regardless of what level of government, I will get involved if it affects Barrie.”