Cutting Tie with Mark A MacDonald’s “A eh! Team” – Office Opening Ceremony – August 30, 2011 – Cornwall Ontario by Jamie Labonte

Cutting Tie with Mark A MacDonald’s “A eh! Team” – Office Opening Ceremony – August 30, 2011 – Cornwall Ontario by Jamie Labonte
Cornwall ON – When Mark MacDonald cut the ribbon to open his campaign office tonight, it spoke a lot about the man and his down to earth nature. The “Ribbon” we cut was the red tie he wore to his nomination meeting. It was soiled while he was cleaning up after the event but he wanted to put it to one final good use. That’s Mark. Not afraid to get dirty, to get down to work, to shine. To put it simply, Mark MacDonald is Cornwall.
His family grew up not a few blocks away from his headquarters. The volunteers packed the converted garage and spilled out onto the street (in the rain!). Mark and family served up some tasty treats, played   classic music on the accordion with one of his many senior citizen friends that he knows so well from visiting residences all over the area. While I may regard the accordion as just a bagpipes with keys, the feeling of warmth and exuberance was undeniable. The people who were here came because they know Mark, they believe in him and because they feel as strongly as he does about the crossroads we are at. He was definitely in his element.We had guest speaker, infrastructure minister Bob Chiarelli as well. Minister Chiarelli spoke glowingly about the quality he could feel in that room. With10 election campaigns under his belt, he said that he could tell that this crew was a winner. A seasoned campaigner gets a feel for these things, you see.

Both Mark and the Minister spoke very passionately of the pride they have for the accomplishments of  the McGuinty government. The creation of 92 000 jobs since the inception of the HST,  the 15 000 green energy jobs in the province. The improvements to healthcare, education and to infrastructure. Yes, Cornwall has been hard hit by this recession that reared it’s head in 2008. The good news is that we are likely to have regained pre-recession employment levels by 2012.  To put it in National terms, we as Ontarians can account for more jobs added in the last year than the rest of the provinces combined. Yes, there is pride in the Liberal brand in Ontario and with good reason.

This in no way means, however that Mark is resting on those laurels. Not by a long shot. He already has his eye on improving the situation in Cornwall through extensions of roads, safety improvements on the highway 138 and healthcare and hospice improvements. Programs that will help put Cornwall on the map and help the rest of the world see that as a center for quality of life and urban excellence, Cornwall means business!

The contrast between Liberal and Conservative strategies was drawn. A stark contrast indeed. As Minister Chiarelli pointed out, Ontario’s stimulus program is a success without peer but while it has been praised by economists for it’s effectiveness , Tim Hudak actually voted against it. I actually did not know that about Tim Hudak. Did you? I mused, “What is that guy thinking?”.  I will not make assumptions about his motives except to say that from my vantage point, rebuilding our economy was not his priority.

With his trademark humility, Mark repeated what he has done at all his constituency meetings. To paraphrase, “…I am just the candidate…nothing more. It’s up to each and every one of us to make sure we discuss this election with any and all.  It’s going to take a lot of work but we can and will win this one…” Mark doesn’t put on airs. A former firefighter and a grassroots member of the community, he doesn’t make a lot of time for theatrics or for glad-handing. He spoke warmly with volunteers, with seniors who undoubtedly would not, nor could not be going door to door for health reasons. He spoke to my 7 year old daughter and remembered that she has started school the previous day and asked her how it went. He’s a guy that remembers your face, your name and your situation. He’s a guy that makes time for you.

I asked Mark if he was ready for the campaign ahead. There was a gleam in his eye. He looked at me, straight in the face and said quietly and with conviction, “I am so ready to do this!”

Yes Mark. You are definitely ready. All I can say is, I hope you all get a chance to meet Mark. I get the distinct feeling that as a public servant, he’s the genuine article. If you do have a chance to meet him, you’ll see what I mean.

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