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Local riding associations now looking to get candidates in place

Political parties across the province are short-listing their candidates for the ballot in the run up to the general election slated for June 7. In the Kitchener-Conestoga riding, currently only the Progressive Conservative candidate has been selected – incumbent MPP Michael Harris – while the other political parties are still settling on their choices.

The local Liberal riding association will be making its decision February 18. Seeking the nomination for the Liberals, Waterloo’s Joe Gowing said he was hoping to bring better representation of the townships to provincial government.

“I find that the voice of Kitchener-Conestoga isn’t there in politics,” said Gowing about his motivation to run. “And I want to be the voice for the townships, because I’ve been speaking to residents from the townships themselves and they really haven’t had a voice at Queen’s Park. That’s what I want to change, for sure.”

Gowing was born and raised in the tri-cities, lived most of his life in Cambridge and has been a resident of Kitchener-Conestoga for the last eight years. He’s been involved in the Liberal party for years, helping start the Young Liberals chapter during his time studying at Conestoga College, and has served as a trustee on the Waterloo Catholic District School Board. Gowing has been in the banking sector for more than 15 years and currently works as a mortgage specialist at Meridian Credit Union.

If Gowing secures the candidacy, he will be taking on Harris, someone he’s known for a while.

“Don’t get me wrong, I’ve known Mike since college,” said Gowing. “But I find that he’s comfortable. I think that you need somebody in there that will be the representative for each township and each area of it, because it’s a huge area, and there’s different issues in each area that are specific to those areas.

“If you’re not at the grassroots, and not in meetings in those areas, you don’t really hear what’s happening. And if you don’t reach out to them, how do you know what’s going on?”

In the 2014 general election, the Liberal candidate captured 33 per cent of the vote versus the Conservative’s 36 per cent.

The NDP, meanwhile, garnered 21 per cent of the vote. Currently, nominations to represent the party in Kitchener-Conestoga are still open, said a spokesperson for the NDP Ontario, and a date has yet to be set for picking a final candidate.

Seeking the candidacy for the Green Party is Elmira resident Bob Jonkman, who previously ran for the Greens in the federal election.

“I’ve been for a long time now dissatisfied with the selection available in the other parties. Since the ridings were split just before the 2015 federal election, it left the Kitchener-Conestoga riding without a Green Party candidate,” he said.

Jonkman had been involved with the Pirate Party of Canada and had been asked to run on the federal Green Party ticket. He’s hoping now to run for the provincial seat in this election.

“To give good representation to the constituents, to the people that live in the Kitchener-Conestoga riding, which extends all the way around from Breslau all the way over to Wilmot, Wellesley and a little chunk of Kitchener too. I just don’t believe that … the big tent parties are able to provide representation to the people themselves.”

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