Sault Ste. Marie Progressive Conservative candidate Ross Romano had high profile support at the official opening of his campaign headquarters at 232 Queen Street East Saturday.
Romano, selected as the party’s candidate in November, was joined by PC leader Patrick Brown at the ribbon cutting ceremony.
The two men, who are longtime friends, cut a Tory blue ribbon with blue-handled scissors at the campaign office, to the cheers of local PC supporters.
A number of familiar, high profile faces were seen at Saturday’s campaign office ribbon cutting event, including former mayor and CAO Joe Fratesi and former Sault MP Bryan Hayes.
Brown’s visit, the latest in several visits to the Sault, comes soon after an early January stop in the community, in which Romano kicked off his campaign in a yet-to-be-called byelection to fill the vacant Sault riding’s seat.
“We’ve been knocking on doors for a little over three weeks and the message we’re hearing over and over again is hydro, hydro, hydro…it’s a major issue for us but it’s just one of many, and it’s time we hold the Liberals accountable for 13 years of mismanagement,” Romano told supporters.
Clearly, there is a feeling among local PCs the party can win the Sault riding for the first time in over 30 years.
Saturday’s event took place just before Brown and Romano prepared to hit the streets and knock on doors to seek voter support.
The government must call a byelection for the Sault within six months after Dec. 31, 2016, when David Orazietti’s time as MPP officially came to an end after he announced his departure from politics.
“I have a four pillar plan for economic development,” Brown told reporters.
“We’ve seen 350,000 manufacturing jobs lost, so first of all we’ve got to cut the red tape (encouraging businesses to invest in expansion and jobs), I want to invest in infrastructure to get companies products to the marketplace, we need affordable energy prices because you can’t keep jobs and businesses here with hydro prices that are atrocious (he said he would remedy that, in part, by expanding natural gas use for companies to use), and link education to employment with more focus on skilled trades, technology and innovation, teaching kids computer programming…that’s all part of our four pillar plan.”
Brown added he would, as Premier, look into revisiting green energy mega contracts negotiated by the Liberals.
Regarding healthcare, Brown said he would free up funding by cutting down on “bloated administration” costs for healthcare brass.
Brown said “it is disappointing that we’re about to come to provincial budgets and there’s going to be no Sault Ste. Marie MPP,” calling on Premier Kathleen Wynne to call a byelection soon.
“I think our mayor has his hands full,” Romano told SooToday, criticizing Wynne’s comments, made during a visit to the Sault Jan. 26, in which she said Mayor Christian Provenzano can serve as a strong voice for the Sault until a byelection is called “in due course.”
Romano also criticized Wynne for not paying enough attention to Essar Steel Algoma’s ongoing concerns.
“Cap and trade is a major problem as well, there is so much waste and mismanagement going on, but above all else, hydro is the major concern I’m hearing,” Romano told SooToday, stating a PC government would address those costs for the benefit of consumers and businesses.
Brown and Romano were scheduled to attend a volunteer appreciation event, then a church service Sunday morning, while Brown also intends to take part in Sunday’s Polar Bear Swim event (Romano said he is considering taking the plunge himself).