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Shoemaker declines Liberal nomination

He says city council is 'where I can drive the most change'
20141201 Matthew Shoemaker KA
FILE PHOTO: Ward 3 councillor Matthew Shoemaker. Kenneth Armstrong/SooToday

Ward 3 City Councillor Matthew Shoemaker has decided not to seek the Liberal nomination for the Sault riding in the yet-to-be-called provincial byelection.

Shoemaker’s decision comes after local political pundits spent several weeks of wondering ’will he or won’t he?’

Shoemaker had expressed his interest in the nomination after former Sault MPP David Orazietti announced his departure from provincial politics in December.

“It was mid to late last week that I settled on the decision and informed the local riding association they would have to seek out another candidate,” Shoemaker told SooToday Wednesday.

“I thought I could perhaps be more effective at city council, continuing with the initiatives I’ve been trying to push since I was elected (as a city councillor, for the first time, in 2014),” Shoemaker said.

“I didn’t want to give that role up.”

“I’ve been trying to get things rolling at council, with 65 motions I’ve moved or seconded . . . I’m trying to get things done at council, trying to push the agenda and really trying to improve the functioning of the municipality so that it is a place that encourages opportunity and drives change.”

Orazietti announced his retirement from provincial politics in mid-December, his time as MPP officially done Dec. 31. Legally, the government has six months from that date in which to call a byelection to fill the vacant Sault seat. 

The Progressive Conservatives nominated Ross Romano as their candidate for the Sault riding back in November, while Joe Krmpotich was picked to fly the NDP’s colours Jan. 25.

“With Matt out, we’re waiting on others . . . there’s no fixed date (for a nomination meeting).  As the situation changes, we’ll move along pretty quick and be up and running,” said Richard Fiacconi, Sault Ste. Marie Provincial Liberal Association president. 

Skeptics may say Shoemaker has chosen not to seek the Liberal nomination in order to protect and preserve his young political career by not representing an unpopular Liberal government.

But that’s not the case, Shoemaker said.

“I would say David Orazietti achieved so much for our community that I would have been proud to stand on his record, and the record of the party.  We’re still the government in power.  We continue to effect change with the steel plant and connecting links, and things like that.”

“I think I would have been a good contender had I put my name forward but . . . I thought the best way to continue driving the agenda is at the municipal level,” Shoemaker said.

“There’s no (party) restrictions on how you can drive the agenda forward (at the municipal level) . . . it’s where I can drive the most change.”

Shoemaker said he has settled on his decision and doubts if he would reconsider in the 2018 general election.

Shoemaker said his advice for the Sault Liberal candidate, whoever he or she will be, would be to campaign on the achievements of Orazietti, who served as a cabinet minister, and the Liberal government.

“I would advocate the benefits of having someone in government to drive that local agenda at Queen’s Park.”

Premier Kathleen Wynne, in a Jan. 26 visit to the Sault, told reporters “stay tuned, there will be a byelection called in due course,” adding there needs to be a careful candidate search.

Wynne, during that same visit, told the media she thinks Sault Mayor Christian Provenzano is serving as an effective voice for the Sault during the current wait for a Liberal nomination meeting and byelection call.