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PostPosted: Fri Jul 30, 2010 3:11 pm    Post subject: MLA Cecil Clarke to run for Conservatives in Cape Breton Reply with quote

Clarke makes splashy entrance into world of federal politics
Cape Breton North MLA Cecil Clarke gets a high five from Landen Mitchelitis, 7, of Sydney Mines shortly before Clarke announced Thursday at the Joan Harriss Cruise Pavilion in Sydney that he will be seeking the Conservative nomination in the federal ridin

Published on July 29th, 2010

Chris Shannon SYDNEY — Cecil Clarke’s entry into the federal political world Thursday was marked with pageantry at a scale rarely seen among politicians looking to knock off a popular incumbent.

Topics : Northside Civic Centre , Cape Breton , Ottawa , Sydney
Running ahead of the Cape Breton North MLA to the stage were more than a dozen flag waving children wearing Clarke campaign T-shirts.

Tom Petty’s I Won't Back Down blasted through the speakers as people in the crowd reached out to touch the 42-year-old, who took his time getting to the podium, with other supporters clapping enthusiastically.

Clarke, who was first elected to the legislature in a March 2001 byelection, said being a member of Parliament is about “getting the job done” and he will be “stepping up to deliver” for the constituents of Sydney-Victoria if chosen as the Conservative candidate in the riding.

In an unusual move for a Canadian politician, Clarke used a quote from the Bible in the opening lines of his speech as several hundred supporters looked on.

“I must say, as it’s quoted in the Good Book, ‘And a little child shall lead them.’ The children that are here today is why I’m here today, and why we’re here today ... to give the children the foundation and opportunity to choose to live and stay here in Cape Breton,” he said only to be drowned out by cheers.

Clarke focused mainly on his nine years in provincial politics during his 10-minute speech.

With former premiers John Hamm and Rodney MacDonald in the front row, Clarke lauded the success of the federal and provincial governments’ signing of the Offshore Accord in 2005 that awarded Nova Scotia more than $830 million in offshore gas royalties. Clarke signed the document as energy minister at the time.

While in government he has held several cabinet portfolios, including minister of economic development, energy, justice, attorney general, as well as house speaker.

He also touted his support and the former provincial Tory government’s financing of the Sydney tar ponds cleanup, the Donkin coal mine operation, and the construction of the Northside Civic Centre, which is already underway.

“You know I’ve gone to Ottawa a lot, and I’ve been able to come back to Cape Breton with a lot. But just imagine my friends the possibilities and the opportunities if you sent me to Ottawa 100 per cent of the time.

“If you lend me your vote ... I can prove to you what I know we can do, and that’s to deliver,” Clarke added.

Liberal MP Mark Eyking has occupied the seat for nearly a decade, spending his first five years in government.

In a release, Eyking said he found it curious that Clarke failed to mention Prime Minister Stephen Harper in his speech and that the hall at the Joan Harriss Cruise Pavilion had no posters of the Conservative leader.

“Cecil spoke proudly of his connection with John Hamm. But the reality is he represents Stephen Harper, not John Hamm, and that will be a tough sell at the doorstep,” Eyking said.

Following the hour-long event, which featured fiddle music, barbecue hotdogs, children’s face-painting and door prizes, Clarke told reporters he would be in for a real fight to win the seat with Eyking able to consistently win more than 50 per cent of the vote. The riding has been in Liberal hands since 1979.

“I don’t take anything for granted in Sydney-Victoria. I respect the incumbent that’s there. I really like the individual but it’s about who’s best to deliver for Cape Breton at this time, and I believe I’m that choice.”

Once an election is called Clarke said he would unveil an election platform centred on job growth and gaining a foothold in the Atlantic Gateway initiative.

He said he would continue working to keep the Sydney harbour dredging issue centre of mind in Ottawa, as he continues his work as MLA.

Clarke said he wouldn’t resign his provincial seat until he’s formally nominated as the candidate for the federal riding, and that’s likely months away.

But provincial Liberal leader Stephen McNeil said Clarke’s constituents won’t receive the attention they deserve, and he should step down.

“He should resign immediately so the people of his riding can be represented fully and completely,” McNeil said in a release.

Other high-profile Tories who joined Clarke onstage along with Hamm and MacDonald, as balloons dropped from above the stage, were federal Labour Minister Lisa Raitt and Senator Michael MacDonald.

Cape Breton Tory MLAs Alfie MacLeod, Keith Bain and Allan MacMaster attended, as well as Progressive Conservative leadership candidate Jamie Baillie.


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 30, 2010 3:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Clarke eager to represent federal Tories in C.B. riding

By LAURA FRASER Cape Breton Bureau
Fri, Jul 30 - 6:15 AM

Cecil Clarke will stay as MLA for Cape Breton North until a federal nomination meeting is called. (Eric Wynne / Staff)

SYDNEY — Cecil Clarke, MLA for Cape Breton North, hopes to run in the next federal election, challenging Liberal Mark Eyking for the Sydney-Victoria seat he has held for nearly 10 years.

Clarke officially declared himself a candidate for the Conservative party nomination Thursday, ending weeks of speculation about a potential move to Ottawa.

Tom Petty’s I Won’t Back Down blared through the speakers as the 42-year-old politician ran to the stage at the Joan Harriss Cruise Pavilion surrounded by flag-waving children.

"They’re the reason why I’m getting in this race," Clarke told reporters after the fanfare. "They deserve the choice to stay here in Cape Breton and have a life for themselves and have their own families here."

Pageantry accompanied much of Thursday’s announcement as supporters’ cheers drowned out parts of Clarke’s speech and balloons floated from the ceiling.

Although he did not reveal his specific platform, the politician spoke about wanting to create economic opportunity on the island and draw people home.

He highlighted the work he said he has accomplished at the federal level, taking credit for helping former premier John Hamm negotiate the $830-million offshore accord agreement with Ottawa.

Clarke said he met with six federal minsters about dredging Sydney harbour, an issue expected to play a key role in his campaign.

"When you look at the dredging of the harbour, I spent a lot of time in Ottawa working for the people of Cape Breton and Nova Scotia (at the provincial level)," he told reporters. "The next logical step is to look to represent Cape Bretoners in Ottawa."

High-profile Conservatives flocked to Sydney for the announcement. Former premiers John Hamm and Rodney MacDonald accompanied Clarke on stage, as did federal Labour Minister Lisa Raitt.

MacDonald called his former justice minster a champion for Cape Breton at the federal level. He did, however, acknowledge that Clarke would find a tough competitor in the Sydney-Victoria incumbent.

"But Cecil had his work cut out for him in 2001 running in a former premier’s seat, a Liberally held seat, and then going against all odds and winning (a provincial) byelection," MacDonald said. "So he’s no stranger to a challenge."

The federal Conservatives will consider Clarke’s decision a coup for the party as he will bring "star power" to the next election, a Cape Breton University political scientist said.

"There will be a difficult and challenging road ahead for Cecil Clarke, however," Tom Urbaniak said. "It’s certainly not without precedent that the Conservatives could hold one of the Cape Breton ridings, although I expect that to be more likely only in the event of a Conservative majority. If there’s still a Conservative minority, chances are the Liberals would be in good stead."

Eyking’s constituency assistant stood at the side of the auditorium as Clarke declared his intent to run.

The MP for the riding later issued a terse news release saying he has no plan to jump on the campaign trail until an election is called.

"Cecil spoke proudly of his connection with John Hamm," Eyking said in the release. "But the reality is he represents Stephen Harper, not John Hamm, and that will be a tough sell at the doorstep."

Clarke will stay on as an MLA until the federal Conservatives call their nomination meeting. At that point, he must step aside.

The leader of the provincial Liberals called for Clarke’s immediate resignation from his duties as a provincial politician.


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 01, 2010 5:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A very tough riding to win, but I think with his name recognition he stands a very good chance. I also respect how he quoted the Bible -- that takes a lot of guts and shows that he a principled politician.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 13, 2010 11:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Its going to be a tough sell;
But after Bernard Généreux won Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup I have quickly realized that you can win any riding as long as you have the right person running.
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MLA Cecil Clarke to run for Conservatives in Cape Breton

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