‘The timing is just right’: MP Guy Lauzon retiring

SDSG MP Guy Lauzon listens to the proceedings of the SDSG Conservative Association AGM in Bonville, Ont. on Saturday, Jan. 26, 2019. Lauzon has announced that he won't be the Conservative candidate in the upcoming federal election. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

BONVILLE – After 15 years serving the riding, local MP Guy Lauzon won’t be the Conservative candidate for Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry in the October federal election.

Lauzon, 74, made the announcement Saturday morning during the SDSG Conservative Association AGM in Bonville.

The St. Andrews West native was acclaimed as the Conservative candidate in December 2017 but he told the crowd that a lot has changed since that time – namely his wife’s health.

Two days after that election was called in 2015, Lauzon learned his wife, Frances, had Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma cancer and would undergo chemotherapy.

“I got to admit, I didn’t put 110 per cent into that campaign and as a result, not only that, but the country was swinging the other way,” Lauzon said. He captured 51 per cent of the vote – less than the previous election.

“After a great deal of thought and discussion, Frances and I have decided that I won’t be the Conservative in October 2019 to serve in this riding,” Lauzon told party members at the Cornwall Township Lions Club in Bonville.

In an interview with reporters following his announcement, the MP noted that health problems are still causing trouble for his wife. “It’s not critical or anything but there are some concerns there.”

“She’s sacrificed along with me for the last 15 years and four months and we’ve got a pretty nice spot in Florida. She’s down there so it would be nice to spend a little more time down there with her. The timing is right (and) the riding’s in good shape,” Lauzon said.

Lauzon vowed to get behind the person who picks up the torch. “As long as I have a breath in my body, this riding at the federal level will remain blue.”

Lauzon was presented with a piggy bank, shaped like a Conservative campaign bus, signed by then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

As far as his storied career, the highlights are being the party caucus chairman, working with Harper on a daily basis, as well as bringing 217 Service Canada call center jobs to Cornwall in 2009.

Finding another candidate could be done by April

SDSG Conservative Association President Adrian Bugelli says the procedure to replace Lauzon as the Conservative candidate already started this morning.

“We started to put together a candidate nomination committee. That’s an internal one comprised of members of our board along with members of the national party as well,” Bugelli told Cornwall Newswatch.

Bugelli says the candidate nomination race usually lasts about 42 days, meaning a candidate could be chosen by late March or early April. During that time there will be a 14 day window to sell party memberships.

While the national party has the say on timelines, Bugelli anticipates “it will move pretty quickly.”

As for Lauzon’s retirement, Bugelli says he is “happy and sad at the same time. Guy’s been a fantastic Member of Parliament. He’s given so much to our community. He deserves to enjoy time with Frances.”

Eric Duncan giving it ‘consideration’

As Lauzon’s former parliamentary assistant, a former municipal politician (North Dundas mayor) and well connected in the riding, many are looking at Eric Duncan as Lauzon’s successor.

Duncan says he is considering the Conservative nomination race.

“I will say consideration. Today is Guy’s day so I have nothing to say today. But Guy spoke to me late last year to let me know what his plans were and I appreciated that. It’s one of those things, it is nerve wracking because they are big shoes to fill but it was good to get the heads up a few months ago that this was coming today.”

As a political observer, Duncan doesn’t see the split on the right with Maxime Bernier’s Peoples Party of Canada and doesn’t believe it will have an effect on the riding.

“When you raise $24 million in a year as the Conservative Party of Canada. When you see the momentum this morning of the biggest AGM we have had locally and you kind of see the momentum, I think things are going in the right direction for the Conservative party. I don’t see a split happening. I don’t see that. I think people respect the party…and they support Andrew Scheer,” Duncan said.

Duncan says the strategy for whoever the local candidate is will be to “do the Guy Lauzon” by running a local campaign under the assumption you’re losing by 500 votes.

“I don’t expect the strategy to change here locally or nationally. You take nothing for granted and you work your tail off.”

Duncan says the thing he learned the most from Lauzon was his “tireless” work ethic – a man who also came back to the riding nightly while working on Parliament Hill. Lauzon also “wrote the book” on how to do things the right way in finding money for infrastructure while he was an MP with the government of the day.