by Kareen Awadalla
October 17, 2008
“Thank you…for all of your support,” read the website homepage of Tim Jones, the Liberal candidate for the Newmarket-Aurora riding the day after the 2008 election. On Tuesday night, though, apathy spread the country like wildfire as, according to Elections Canada, only about 59.1 per cent of eligible voters made it to the polls, hitting a brand new low. Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper was re-elected, winning a minority government, and effectively gaining 16 more seats in Parliament.
The candidate was hesitant to say whether or not Liberal leader Stephane Dion’s unpopularity was what led to his own loss.
“We’ll never really know. It’s hard to say what happened except that I ran the best campaign I could,” Jones adds. “There’s nothing I would have changed.”
Gathering with supporters at the Newmarket Veteran’s Hall and awaiting the results, Jones, 60, had predicted it would be a close race. It started off hopeful as the numbers between Jones and his Conservative opponent Lois Brown were at one point favouring the Liberals. Then the votes began to tilt a little to the right (-wing). Less than an hour later with Jones and fellow supporters glued to the television screen watching the votes come in, the trend was clear. Jones’ campaign manager Kyle Peterson started off the concession speeches.
“There is no better man for the job,” Peterson said. He told the crowd that Newmarket and Aurora had made a mistake by not electing Jones, but nevertheless was
very proud of the race Jones ran.
The final numbers were Lois Brown, CON — 24,873, Tim Jones, LIB — 18,250,
Mike Seaward, NDP – 4,508, and Glenn Hubbers, GRN – 4,381.
When it was clear he had lost, Jones called his wife up to the podium to thank her for her love and all the support she gives with whatever decision he makes. He acknowledged the presence of CTV Sports anchor Lance Brown. Jones thanked everyone he worked with individually, and, before spending the rest of the evening with family and friends, he made a quick trip to Madsen’s Gardens banquet hall where Lois Brown was celebrating her victory.
While this was Jones’ first time participating in a federal election, the Aurora resident has a resume filled with 28 years of municipal elections under his belt, including 16 years as regional councillor and 12 years as mayor of Aurora.
Ultimately though, Jones was defeated in the 2006 municipal election, but about three or four months later, friend and outgoing Aurora-Newmarket Liberal MP Belinda Stronach approached him, saying she wasn’t running again, and asked if he would be interested.
“I said ‘Interested? Sure!’ and it went from there,” Jones said.
Known for her controversial act of crossing the floor, Stronach and Jones had been friends well prior to Stronach’s Liberal career.
But in an interview several weeks before the election, Jones expressed confidence the Stronach name wouldn’t harm his chances.
“In 2004 she won the Conservative bid by a mere 600-700 votes, beating out Martha Hall Findlay. She then ran the in Liberal election under Paul Martin and won by 5,000 votes, so that tells me it [crossing the floor] just didn’t have a negative effect on the people in the riding.”
Jones feels his experience as mayor of Aurora prepared him for the job of MP.
“As mayor, you have to deal with growth and infrastructure, including environment, economic development, as well as everyday people issues such as housing and welfare. So when I see Richer, Greener, and Fairer translating to economy, environment and social issues, it fit,” Jones said.
Among his goals, if elected was to provide the townspeople with reliable transit, as a way to encourage the ditching of cars in favour of public transport.
“If it’s not convenient, people will not get out of their cars, I’m convinced,” Jones says.
Sensitive to environmental issues, Jones had a 25-year career as recreation supervisor with North York parks and recreation, a lot of which overlapped his political career.
“Mind you, as mayor I was always accused of not being environmentally friendly, but I tie the environment linkage there to growth.”
An example he used was when a developer would come in to meet with him as mayor, he would have to fight for streams and parks. Regardless how far he’d push the envelope with these issues, he says the environmentalists will tell you, “We should have gotten more,” every time. Jones waves his hand as though acknowledging the fact that pleasing everybody isn’t always possible.
Concerned that the Liberal’s Green Shift was being unfairly portrayed, Jones defended his party’s platform.
“The Conservative ‘attack ads’ is what I call them,” he says making air quotations, They “are fabrications and exaggerations of where things are really at. The Conservatives will do anything they can to discredit, when they don’t even have a plan themselves.”
The candidate says one of his biggest achievements in the community was co-chairing the Character Community Council for six years, since its foundation. The Character Matters program advocates good character attributes amongst people, students and schools, even including a number of businesses such as Rogers Television.
“It’s about having respect for each other, being honest, and working your life with integrity,” Jones says. Still a member of the board, Jones laughs and shyly admits he’s missed a few meetings due to his recent busy schedule.
Growing up in the small town of Hampstead, Quebec, Jones attended Bishop’s College and Sir George Williams, now known as Concordia University, finishing with a bachelor of arts with a major in applied social science.
“I love Montreal, it’s my favourite city,” Jones said. His predictions for the NHL season? “Canadiens all the way. They’re not too popular here,” Jones laughs, “We don’t push that around election time.”
As for his future in politics, Jones said he’ll leave it to the people to decide and tell him where they’d like to see him.
(hear Kareen’s podcacst live from Newmarket-Aurora for Observer Radio News. http://centennialondemand.com/radio/?p=134)