Two challenge federal Conservative nomination

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Area obstetrician and gynecologist Gillian Yeates and Essa Mayor Terry Dowdall have been approved to challenge incumbent MP Kellie Leitch for the national Conservative Party nomination for the Simcoe-Grey riding.

Who will ultimately end up on the ballot, when the next federal election comes around, will be decided by party members. Anyone wanting to have a vote at the yet-to-be scheduled nomination meeting will have to become a member by Jan. 25.

“This is a very tight timeline,” said Yeates. “The drive right now is to get my name out there, get people signed up.”

Leitch sought the party leadership in 2017 during a controversial campaign, placing sixth in the leadership election.

The nominees have gone through a process that included collecting signatures, submitting an election package and being interviewed by the electoral district association.

Dowdall was approved as a nominee last week.

He said he started his political career as a municipal councillor and has really enjoyed it.

“I have enjoyed serving the public for 17 years now,” said Dowdall, an elected board member with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, which lobbies the federal government for funds for things like affordable housing, policing, infrastructure and transportation.

“Being deputy warden this term has allowed me the opportunity to travel, other than in my own municipality, and hear the interests and concerns of all the residents in our area,” said Dowdall.

He said he is at the stage in his political career when he is seizing an opportunity, since the nomination process has been opened up. He is glad that people are talking about the Conservative Party.

“My campaign isn’t to run against Kellie,” said Dowdall. “Kellie ran for the leadership in a way that was right for her and I am not commenting on that… I am just glad that they opened it up, because the Conservative numbers could be stronger in our riding over the last couple of elections. We have a lot of new people in our area… gone are the days of thinking it is always Conservative in this riding. I think we need to work hard to ensure we have more people who understand the party and its policies so we can get more members and be that much stronger.”

He is working to spread the word about his run for the nomination but feels he has a solid grasp of the issue through his work at the municipal level.

“I have often said the best thing to do in this country is to come up with local solutions to all these federal issues,” said Dowdall.

Yeates said she subscribes to the Conservative Party platform and says because it is a party vote, it’s kind of like choosing a favourite flavor of ice cream.

“Every founding principle and every policy in the Conservative Party I have read and I agree with. My goal is to be a strong candidate as a choice for the voters, a candidate with a different perspective and a different approach than other people challenging. The strength of democracy is in having choice,” said Yeates.

When Yeates announced her intention to seek the nomination in the fall, she said the political climate needs to change and in the present political environment, there are those who are playing upon fears and advocating protectionism with the result of raising suspicion against people of colour or religion.

Since then, she said, the response from the public has been very positive.

Yeates said she was already planning to bring another doctor into her practice, to free up some time, and plans to do that win or lose.

“People are saying to me, why are you leaving your practice? You have an obligation to practice. What is happening in Ontario right now is the government restricts practice and hospitals restrict surgical practices, based on available OR time. I have a surgical practice, so people are seeking me out and the truth of the matter is that I need a succession plan because I need to look to the future and make sure that the people of this area are taken care of,” she said.

Yeates has been practicing in Collingwood since 2000 and says she has seen 20,000 patients and has delivered more than 3,000 babies. She went to Harvard on a hockey scholarship and returned to Canada to attend medical school.

“If you understand a little bit more about me, you’ll understand why I am doing this,” said Yeates.

She took advantage of a public skating rink in Bramalea, and taught herself to skate by reading books. She honed her skills in a local women’s league before joining her high school team and being recruited to play goalie for Harvard.

In addition to a number of meet-and-greets at people’s homes in Collingwood and Duntroon, there is one planned at Station on the Green in Creemore from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 16. Everyone is welcome.

Visit and cpcgillianyeates on Facebook or contact [email protected]

For more about Terry Dowdall, visit

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