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Sault byelection unofficially starts (2 photos)

PC leader Patrick Brown visits Sault to support local candidate Ross Romano; dumps on Wynne government policies, calls for need to focus on skilled trades jobs
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Patrick Brown, Progressive Conservative Party leader and Ontario’s Leader of the Opposition, visited Sault Ste. Marie Monday.

Briefly donning a Soo Greyhounds jersey before delivering a speech, Brown was in the Sault to support local PC candidate Ross Romano at a public meet and greet held at Algoma’s Water Tower Inn & Suites, but it was clear most of the audience consisted of the party faithful.

On his sixth visit to the Sault, Brown dumped on Premier Kathleen Wynne’s cap and trade policy, high hydro rates and problems in postsecondary education.

Brown said a Progressive Conservative government would put more emphasis on leading young people into pursuing careers in skilled trades, engineering and information technology in Ontario, and put less emphasis on liberal arts education.

The meet and greet came just two days after David Orazietti’s time as Sault MPP officially came to an end, after the long-serving Liberal MPP and cabinet minister announced his withdrawal from politics Dec. 16.

A byelection must be called to elect a new MPP for the Sault riding within six months, but with Monday’s event, Romano wasted no time in unofficially launching his own campaign to take the riding for the PCs.

Romano, a Ward 6 city councillor and lawyer who was selected to be the PC candidate for the Sault riding in November, acknowledged to SooToday he would have big political shoes to fill as Orazietti, the Sault’s MPP who made many key funding announcements over the past 13 years, leaves the political scene.

“I think David did an exceptional job . . . he did bring a lot of funding to the Sault (but) my perspective is I think I can do as well, and I hope to do a lot better,” Romano said.

“I think bringing money to Sault Ste. Marie is one thing, but we need more than just funds in the Sault, I think we need to really look at creating some new industries, making the Sault a place where people want to do business in.”

“Tourism, to me, is an area we really need to push,” Romano said, adding jobs in skilled trades areas, information technology, a data centre for OLG and development of the Port of Algoma each need to be pursued.