Home Page Election 2019 News Opinion Foreign Policy Politics Policy Legislation Lobbying Hill Life & People Hill Climbers Heard On The Hill Calendar Archives Classifieds
Hill Times Events Inside Ottawa Directory Hill Times Store Hill Times Careers The Wire Report The Lobby Monitor Parliament Now
Subscribe Free Trial Reuse & Permissions Advertising
Log In
News

Conservative MP Tilson tells O’Leary ‘to his face’ he won’t vacate his House seat

By Abbas Rana      

Kevin O’Leary is focused on leadership campaign and will decide where to run after the campaign is over, says press secretary Ari Laskin.

Five-term Conservative MP David Tilson, right, informed Conservative Party leadership front-runner Kevin O’Leary, left, at a private meeting last week that he would not vacate his seat for him if the businessman and reality-TV star won the party’s top job next month in Toronto. The Hill Times photographs by Jake Wright
Share a story
The story link will be added automatically.

Five-term Conservative MP David Tilson informed Conservative Party leadership front-runner Kevin O’Leary at a private meeting last week that he would not vacate his seat for him if the businessman and reality-TV star won the party’s top job next month in Toronto.

In an interview with The Hill Times, Mr. Tilson (Dufferin-Caledon, Ont.)—who is supporting Conservative MP Michael Chong’s (Wellington-Halton Hills, Ont.) leadership bid—denied ongoing rumours that if Mr. O’Leary won the party’s leadership, he would step aside for the new leader to have his riding.

Mr. Tilson, 76, said he has no idea how the rumour started but that he first read about it about it on a local political website, and other local newspapers later picked up on it.

“Rumours coming from the Dufferin-Caledon Conservative riding association suggest executives there are discussing a bid by Conservative front-runner Kevin O’Leary to replace Conservative MP David Tilson,” reported The Ribbon, a southern Ontario political website, last month. The Ribbon story was posted on National Newswatch on March 13.

Conservative MP David Tilson, right, pictured with former Conservative MP Rick Dykstra, has been representing the Ontario riding of Dufferin-Caledon since 2004. The Hill Times photograph by Jake Wright

Mr. Tilson is the oldest federal MP. He has been an MP for the last 13 years and was an Ontario MPP for 12 years before that.

He said he never told anyone, including his riding association members, that he has any plans not to seek re-election in 2019. He said neither Mr. O’Leary nor anyone from his campaign approached him to discuss the subject of vacating the seat should the businessman win the leadership.

Mr. Tilson said he met Mr. O’Leary last week for the first time in Ottawa. He declined to discuss any details of the meeting or why it took place—beyond his refusal to give up his seat—but said there were other Conservative MPs present at the private meeting.

“I said [to Mr. O’Leary], ‘I’m the guy that’s going to give up my seat for you,’ ” said Mr. Tilson. “Then I said ‘not. I have no intention of giving up my seat for you.’ I told him to his face.”

Mr. Tilson said he raised this issue with Mr. O’Leary just so there’s no confusion, and pointed out that Mr. O’Leary never raised the subject.

A spokesman for Mr. O’Leary said in an emailed response to The Hill Times that the campaign is currently only focused on winning the leadership, and if Mr. O’Leary wins, the team will then consider a riding.

“In terms of when and where Mr. O’Leary will be running, we are focused on this leadership campaign and we will be looking at a seat once this campaign is over,” said Ari Laskin, press secretary to Mr. O’Leary.

Businessman Kevin O’Leary is considered as the front-runner in the Conservative Party leadership race. The Hill Times photograph by Jake Wright

A former Ontario MPP from 1990 to 2002, Mr. Tilson was first elected to the House of Commons in 2004 and has been re-elected in every subsequent federal election. He won the 2004 election by a margin of 3.8 percentage points, but grew that to double-digit margins in the 2006, 2008, and 2011. In 2015, Mr. Tilson won by seven percentage points. A Liberal was in second place in each of these elections, except in 2011, when the Green Party was the runner-up.

Meanwhile, Mr. O’Leary told The Hill Times two weeks ago that if he didn’t win the May 27 leadership in Toronto, he won’t run for a House seat.

And if he won, he won’t be in a rush to win a House seat. Mr. O’Leary in the interview cited the example of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (Papineau, Que.), saying that as third-place party leader in the House, he spent much of his time travelling across the country to making himself known to Canadians to win support for the party.

In this outreach, Mr. O’Leary pointed out, Mr. Trudeau went after the youth, which played a key role in the Liberal Party’s success in the last federal election. He said he might follow the same model.

“[Mr. Trudeau] basically went to universities, colleges, and technical schools and dragged that new constituency of the 18- to 35-year-old into the race and got 80 per cent of the vote from them, which is fantastic,” Mr. O’Leary said.

In addition to Mr. O’Leary, four of the 14 leadership candidates do not currently have a seat in the House, being businessman Rick Peterson and three former Conservative MPs, Pierre Lemieux, Chris Alexander, and Andrew Saxton.

The remaining all nine candidates are incumbent Conservative MPs: Michael Chong (Wellington-Halton Hills, Ont.), Kellie Leitch (Simcoe-Grey, Ont.), Maxime Bernier (Beauce, Que.), Deepak Obhrai (Calgary Forest Lawn, Ont.), Andrew Scheer (Regina-Qu’Appelle, Sask.), Erin O’Toole (Durham, Ont.), Steven Blaney (Bellechasse-Les Etchemins-Lévis, Que.), Lisa Raitt (Milton, Ont.), and Brad Trost (Saskatoon-University, Sask.).

According to a poll conducted by Mainstreet Research for iPolitics, Mr. O’Leary was the first choice of 23.5 per cent of Conservative Party members, followed by Mr. Bernier with 16.4 per cent support, Mr. Scheer with 13.1 per cent, and Mr. O’Toole with 9.9 per cent support. The poll of 1,776 Conservative Party members, which had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.32 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, was conducted between March 28 and March 31. The same poll indicated the following support for other candidates: Ms. Leitch (8.9 per cent), Mr. Chong (7.5 per cent), Ms. Raitt (6.3 per cent), Mr. Lemieux (2.4 per cent), Mr. Blaney (2.4 per cent), Mr. Trost (1.9 per cent), Mr. Saxton (.23 per cent), Mr. Obhrai (.06 per cent), and Mr. Peterson at zero.

arana@hilltimes.com

The Hill Times

Election 2019 campaign one of the most ‘uninspiring, disheartening, and dirtiest’ in 40 years, says Savoie

News|By Abbas Rana
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May says she has never seen an election where mudslinging overwhelmingly dominated the campaign, leaving little or no time for policy discussion.

Strategic voting to determine if Liberals will form government, say political players

News|By Abbas Rana
As many as nine per cent of progressive voters could vote strategically in this close election potentially affecting the outcome in more than 100 ridings, says Innovative Research president Greg Lyle.

Turkish offensive should pressure feds to act on repatriation of Canadian citizens in Kurdish-controlled ISIS detention camps, says expert

News|By Neil Moss
The issue of repatriation will be less politically fraught after the election, says expert.

Business tops experience among 2019 candidates, one-third have run for office before

Here’s an analysis of the record 1,700-plus candidates running for the six major parties this election.

Pod save us all: the growing role of political podcasts in election 2019

News|By Mike Lapointe
The Hill Times spoke with some podcast hosts taking a deeper dive into the political nitty-gritty, within a medium that only continues to grow in popularity.

No-shows from Conservative candidate could hurt party’s chances in tight Kanata-Carleton race, say politicos

News|By Palak Mangat
The Conservative's candidate, Justin McCaffrey, has skipped two events, including a debate on the environment, intended to feature all candidates.

For whom will the bell toll in Peterborough-Kawartha?

In a riding where voters are deeply engaged in the political process, candidates avoid the low-hanging fruit and stay out of the mud as they grapple with who to send to the House of Commons.

Singh’s strong campaign an internal win, whatever the outcome, New Democrats say

Jagmeet Singh’s impressive campaign has ‘rescued’ and ‘refocused’ the NDP after the failed 2015 effort, Ed Broadbent says.

The astrophysicist whose polling aggregator is projecting the election

News|By Neil Moss
The mastermind behind 338Canada, poll aggregator Philippe Fournier, is aiming to correctly call 90 per cent of the seats in the Oct. 21 race.
Your group subscription includes premium access to Politics This Morning briefing.