A last-minute change to your PC nominee line-up


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UPDATE: Jeff Yurek won the Ontario PC riding nomination for Elgin-Middlesex-London Saturday on the fourth ballot at Parkside Collegiate Institute.

Seems provincial Conservatives ensconced at Toronto headquarters turned their noses up at, and thumbs down on, Peter Osjotic’s nomination bid for today’s Elgin-Middlesex-London run-off at Parkside Collegiate Institute.

No reason given, when this corner approached Alan Sakach, director of communications for the Ontario PCs.

“It’s an internal organizational matter by the party,” was the extent of Sakach’s enlightenment.

Read the full story here .

However, a hot rumour making the rounds infers a copy of the 2003 McCarthy Tetrault report somehow made it’s way to TO and may have influenced the Ostojic decision.

To refresh, the McCarthy Tetrault report was unanimously requested by city council in September, 2003, and called for a full and independent review of council and its working relationships at city hall.

When delivered just prior to the November municipal vote, the damning report painted a picture of a “dysfunctional” St. Thomas council and its inability to operate in an atmosphere of sniping and internal power struggles.

Specifically, the document pointed a harsh finger at former mayor Ostojic, who it said was “lacking respect for almost all senior staff at one point or another during his term” and was “unable to effectively control council.”

Ouch.

Yeah, a report like that could sway matters.

But, not near as much as the 2004 report, authored by Toronto lawyer Neil Ornstein, that dealt with the entire process surrounding the hiring of Ostojic as a property supervisor, after he stepped down as St. Thomas mayor in September of 2003.

Now that’s a report that had the potential to impact a few careers at city hall.

But hold on a minute, if the provincial Conservatives are going to hold past indiscretions against Ostojic, what about the other Peter vying for the riding nod … Peter North.

Yes, he was cleared in an OPP probe, but just what exactly did go on at the deliciously-named Loose Moose, a Toronto watering hole, where it was alleged North offered a government job to a bar employee.

North was the tourism minister at the time under NDP Premier Bob Rae and the rookie politico no doubt got caught up in the bright lights.

What is most outstanding, nevertheless, is North bid farewell to the NDP after the dust had settled and sat as an independent before achieving the unthinkable . . . winning the old Elgin riding next time around as an independent.

And here’s where the speculation becomes intriguing. Are the provincial Conservatives still indebted to North, who stepped aside (although he admitted at the time no deal was made) to allow newcomer Bruce Smith an opportunity to try and win the new Elgin-Middlesex-London riding?

Is that why one Peter is in and another out?

You can bet, however, should North win the favour of EML Conservatives, a certain strategist in the EML Liberal fold can be counted upon to drop a few bombshells in an effort to liberate the truth about the Loose Goose affair.

Ain’t politics grand?

SURVEY SAYS . . .

A month ago, the vice-president of the Downtown Development Board, John Cini, addressed city council and opined it might be time to shuffle the Iron Horse Festival away from the downtown core.

It’s not the first time down this track, so City Scope chatted with DDB president Dan Muscat to determine what sort of compromise the downtown merchants would be willing to discuss with the organizers of the four-day August festival.

“We, as the DDB, were taking a survey within the BIA (business improvement area) on whether the merchants felt that the Iron Horse Festival was a benefit to them or a deterrent to them,” Muscat advised.

“We have collected a number of surveys from the merchants,” he continued, “and we have presented that to council and we’re not against the Iron Horse Festival, we’re actually all for the Iron Horse Festival. We’re just against the street closures.”

Muscat stressed the DDB is striving to find “a happy medium” that will satisfy merchants and festival organizers.

“Whether it’s the side streets or the parking lots or the CASO station.We have yet to sit down with the Iron Horse organizers. The response from most members was when you close the street, you close the business. Even though there may be an abundance of people attending the festival, it doesn’t generate dollars to their till. They’re not there shopping.

“They may come back afterward,” Muscat continued, “and we’re not disagreeing with that, but most of our members, so far from our survey, do find that those four days are very detrimental to their till.”

Changes are not likely this year, however its an issue the DDB, Iron Horse Festival organizers and city council will need to confront.

TRANSPARENCY . . . WE’LL GET AROUND TO THAT

What a difference over at Elgin St. Thomas Public Health, what with their new mandate of transparency, as espoused by CEO Cynthia St. John several weeks back.

So, why can’t the health unit provide a firm answer as to when, and even if, further information will be released on the inspector suspended with pay earlier this month?

Back on March 4, St. John told the T-J an update on the investigation (undertaken internally, no less) would be provided within a week, all the while stressing the need for her administration to be transparent.

Does that mean releasing exactly what was contained in the inspection reports undertaken by the individual in question, who apparently may not even have visited the food premise in question?

And, is this a case of one rogue inspector, or is this all part and parcel of the poisoned atmosphere at 99 Edward St?

While we’re at it, who are the inspectors answerable to and what is the fate of this individual?

Only when questions of this nature are addressed, can St. John begin to talk about transparency.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“It doesn’t change the process, we’ll just be missing one candidate, which everyone was counting on. I was surprised myself, but that’s their decision.”

Elgin-Middlesex-London PC riding association president Stan Stanek on his reaction to this week’s announcement party headquarters in Toronto had failed to endorse Peter Ostojic’s nomination bid.

City Scope appears Saturday in the Times-Journal. Questions and comments may be e-mailed to: mccallum@stthomastimesjournal.com.

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