Michael Barrett challenges Colin Brown in Tory nomination bid

Conservative riding association president Michael Barrett announced Wednesday his run for the nomination for Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes. Facebook/Michael Barrett

Michael Barrett announced on Wednesday morning that he is seeking the Conservative nomination to run in the federal riding of Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes.

He is the second person to seek the Conservative nomination in the riding that was held by Gord Brown until the MP’s death on May 2. The late MP’s nephew, Colin Brown, announced his run for the nomination on June 11.

READ MORE: Conservative MP Gord Brown dies after heart attack in Parliament Hill office

Barrett, who has worked as the Conservative riding association president for the last two years, and as a local councillor in Edwardsburgh Cardinal for three years, says that he believes his experience in the political sphere has made him an ideal candidate for the nomination.

Barrett was originally born in Arnprior, but after he finished a four-year term in the Canadian Armed Forces, he and his wife Amanda, who is originally from Spencerville, moved to a plot across from Amanda’s family-farm.

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The farm is the backdrop for Barrett’s nomination video posted on Facebook, which also features his wife and three children.

“I’ll work tirelessly for families, for seniors, for farmers and for law-abiding gun-owners,” Barrett said in the video as he walked through a green field.

Barrett said in his press release that his decision to run was spurred after senator and long-time MPP for the region Bob Runciman announced he would not run.

READ MORE: Long-time MPP Bob Runciman steps away from ‘divisive nomination fight’

“While Barrett was initially working to nominate Senator Bob Runciman as a unity candidate, Runciman’s withdrawal led to his announcement,” the release said.

Runciman decided not to run after Colin’s nomination bid announcement, and after Ontario premier-designate Doug Ford organized robocalls asking people in the riding to lend their support to Colin.

WATCH: Young political hopeful Colin Brown seeks uncle’s position

Click to play video: 'Young political hopeful Colin Brown seeks uncle’s position'
Young political hopeful Colin Brown seeks uncle’s position

Although Barrett’s political career isn’t quite as long as Runcinman’s 45-year run in politics, his own political experience outweighs 25-year-old Colin Brown, who counts his time on Ford’s advance team during the recent election campaign as his only political experience.

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“I have been active in the community, I have made the effort and taken the time,” Barrett said. “My candidacy in the nominee race is based on experience proven in the results of my work.”

MPP Steve Clark lent support to Barrett’s bid in a press release.

“Michael has also put in the work to support and help elect Conservatives like myself in our riding,” Clark said. “He holds conservative values close to his heart and his ability to effectively communicate them make him a strong candidate for the nomination.”

READ MORE: Gord Brown’s nephew seeks nomination to honour late uncle’s legacy

Yet Michael Jiggins, Clark’s executive assistant, said on Wednesday that Clark’s supportive comments were not exclusively given to Barrett, and that he also gave support to Colin when he announced.

“Colin gained tremendous experience as part of a tour team that helped deliver a resounding victory for Doug Ford and the Ontario PCs on June 7th,” said Clark in Colin’s announcement release. “Politics are part of the Brown family tradition and Colin’s intelligence, work ethic and hands-on experience in helping organize and deliver a winning campaign make him an impressive candidate.”

A date for the Conservative nomination meeting has not been announced, nor has the date for the by-election.

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As for other nominees, Jiggins said he hasn’t heard of any other confirmed candidates, but he expects more might put their names in.

“I’m sure there’s lots of interest,” said Jiggins.

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