The number of candidates vying for the federal Conservation nomination to replace Candice Bergen as Member of Parliament for Portage-Lisgar continues to grow and is now up to six.
Conservative senate leader Don Plett. said with interest as high as it is for the highly contested nomination, Portage-Lisgar could have one of the highest memberships in the country by the end of the contest. Portage-Lisgar is regarded as one of the safest Conservative ridings in the country.
Over the weekend, former Winnipeg Conservative MP Lawrence Toet was the latest to toss his hat in the ring.
The big motivation for him is family.
"I looked at, you know, my ten grandchildren and I said I need to get back involved in public service. If I look at the direction of the country is going in so many ways where Justin Trudeau is trying to bring our society and the drastic changes that are happening that we need to have voices that are talking about family values, cherishing life, and caring about life. We need to have people there that are actually willing to bring those values to Ottawa and talk about them in Ottawa and make sure that they're recognized as important values."
Using the slogan 'the common sense candidate,' Toet feels he will resonate with hard-working family-oriented voters in the riding.
"Talking to the people in this area over the years, they have common sense in what they do. They don't need people with six or seven degrees telling them how to live their lives. They understand that it takes common sense to balance a budget, to understand how to live within your means, to understand that you need to work to get (ahead) in life. We need to have
those same common sense principles brought forward in government, rather than untested theories."
Before entering politics, Toet spent 25 years as a partner in a family-owned print business in Winnipeg. He was elected Member of Parliament for the Elmwood-Transcona riding in 2011, serving one term under then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper before being defeated in 2015 by the NDP's Daniel Blaikie.
His roots in Portage-Lisgar consist of family connections in Carman.
"My mother's family moved to the Carman area in 1950 when they immigrated here from the Netherlands. I still have a large extended family in that area. In fact, I have two of my daughters and their husbands now living in that area, and six of my grandkids. My uncles had farms in Graysville and I'd go out there and work in the barns and out in the fields. When I was a young guy. I think that's where I learned my good work ethic. "
Married to his wife Marilyn for 36 years, the Toets have four children, who are all married.
According to Toet, one of the riding's main issues is rural water resiliency.
"We have major challenges in making sure we've got fresh water. It's affecting the growth of our industries, but it's also affecting just everyday citizens in their own homes, right? If we have an aging infrastructure in so many ways - you talk about water and sewage issues, issues with infrastructure and roads etcetera. But the other big issues are obviously carbon taxes. The carbon tax is a huge huge Challenge in agricultural communities. It's really a punitive tax, not a solution-seeking tax. We need to work on solutions to this. In the farm equipment business, there are no real solutions other than carbon machinery."
Regarding Ottawa's gun control efforts, "the hunters, farmers, and sport shooters are not the problem," said Toet. "These are people that are living within the law, with properly registered weapons, using them in an appropriate manner. We need to stop the flow of actual weapons coming illegally into this country, to make sure that those that are caught with those types of offenses are actually facing the consequences of it. There's a way of life that is important to the people of Portage-Lisgar and that way of life needs to be protected and not attacked. I will stand up to protect that way of life."
Toet says all he can ask is that constituents choose an MP who reflects their own values.
Billed as 'the common sense candidate,' he feels that the slogan will resonate with hard-working family-oriented voters in the riding.
A date for the Portage-Lisgar by-election has not yet been announced.