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Ear Falls mayor to seek Liberal nod

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The mayor of Ear Falls is the first person to declare their intention to seek the Liberal nomination in Kenora-Rainy River for the next provincial election.

“I’ve always had an interest in the economy of our region and the services our government provides to residents in the Kenora-Rainy River district,” Geoff McClain said Tuesday.

“I’ve involved myself in local and regional municipal politics and felt it is the right time to step up to the provincial level,” he added.

McClain was born in Red Lake, but lived in Atikokan for 20 years before moving back in 1994.

“I have a familiarity with the Kenora and Rainy River districts and I have lived in both,” he noted.

In addition to being mayor of Ear Falls, McClain is the director of the Kenora District Social Services Board and chair of the Ontario Works Children Committee.

He also sits on the provincial Early Years steering committee, which covers both the Kenora and Rainy River districts.

McClain sees health care, education, and the economy as the biggest issues facing this region. “Access to family physicians, access to services, to local health centres, and clinics are key priorities,” he stressed.

“Education is a key area,” he added. “The provincial funding formula has had a significant impact on small communities and regions such as ours with vast distances and low populations and modest population growth.

He also charged Northwestern Ontario’s economy has lagged behind the growth and development in the southern part of the province.

McClain said he felt his party would do very well—both locally and provincially—in the upcoming election, which is expected to be called by Premier Ernie Eves sometime next year.

“There is a history of Liberal support here in both districts,” he noted. “I feel it is a great opportunity for the Liberal party to make some inroads.

“Certainly across the province there is support for the Liberal party,” he enthused. “We are leading in the polls and I feel that in the next provincial election, the Liberal party will have an excellent standing.”

The Kenora-Rainy River Provincial Liberal Association announced last week it has scheduled the nomination meeting for Feb. 8 at 1:30 p.m. at the Royal Canadian Legion in Dryden.

NDP leader and local MPP Howard Hampton already has been acclaimed as the NDP candidate in Kenora-Rainy River. Meanwhile, the local Progressive Conservative party also is in the process of selecting a candidate.

“The candidate selection committee has until [Nov.] 15, the end of the week, to get the names back to us,” Fort Frances Mayor Glenn Witherspoon, president of the provincial Kenora-Rainy River P.C. Riding Association, said Tuesday.

While Witherspoon said a couple of people have expressed interest in seeking the nomination, and have acquired memberships to sell, Cathe Hoszowski is the only person to declare their candidacy so far.

The P.C. riding association also has not set a date for its nomination meeting yet. “We would like to get everything in place as early in 2003 as possible,” Witherspoon said.

While he isn’t sure when the next election will be called, Witherspoon is confident the Tory candidate will do well here.

“The Conservative party is the party in power at the moment and they have done very well for the north considering there is nothing around the Cabinet table,” he remarked.

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