PC candidate earns Liberal endorsements in Lambton-Kent-Middlesex

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Well-known Liberals in Lambton-Kent-Middlesex have been coming out publicly in support of Monte McNaughton, the rural southwestern Ontario riding's Progressive Conservative candidate in the June 12 provincial election.

They include Dr. Thomas Wolder, a family doctor and former mayor in Strathroy, who said his support for the Liberal Party is a mixed bag these days.

"Federally, probably, but certainly not provincially," he said.

"I'm certainly upset with the way they've run things."

Wolder was campaign manager for former Liberal MP Rose-Marie Ur through four elections but said he's not supporting the party provincially this time for reasons that include the ORNGE air ambulance scandal, gas plant scandals, climbing electricity costs, Ontario’s growing debt and wind turbines rising in his community.

"My wife certainly doesn't want these towers near our farm," Wolder said. "She's quite upset about it.”

Wolder said he believes many "high-profile Liberals" aren't supporting the party this election, and added, "I see lots of Liberals down my street that have Conservative signs."

Wolder said he considers McNaughton "a good man, and I think he's cabinet material," but added his support runs more to the candidate than it does to the PC leader, Tim Hudak.

"I don't think some of the things Hudak's coming out with make sense, like firing 100,000 people right off the bat," Wolder said.

McNaughton, a Newbury businessman who took the riding from the Liberals in the 2011 election, said Liberals coming into his camp tell him they're looking to change a government they believe has forgotten rural Ontario.

"Whether it's factories closing, or the wind turbines being constructed, or rural hospital cutbacks, I just think this government is seen to be more of a downtown Toronto government, than anything," McNaughton said.

Rex Crawford, a Wallaceburg area resident who served as a Liberal MP in the 1980s and 1990s, supported McNaughton in 2011 and is again this election.

"I feel Monte's a real gentleman and working for his constituents," Crawford said, "and what I've seen happening in Toronto is sickening."

Jeff Wesley, another Wallaceburg politician with strong Liberal ties, said he's supporting McNaughton, "because he has earned my vote."

Wesley is a Chatham-Kent councillor, former Wallaceburg mayor, former federal Liberal candidate, and a member of a committee fighting cuts to the community's hospital.

"I consider Monte a friend and someone who cares about Wallaceburg," Wesley said.

"I have been involved in politics for 30 years and do not know the Liberal candidate at all."

He's Mike Radan, a business manager from Appin, who said he's not too concerned about "disgruntled" Liberals endorsing one of his opponents.

"I've been involved with the Liberal party for about two and half years now," he said. "I've never seen those people. They haven't been around for a very long time."

Radan said his campaign is supported by groups of firefighters, nurses and teachers, plus it has been "flooded with volunteers," including many who haven't been involved in politics before.

paul.morden@sunmedia.ca

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