PC candidate resigns in protest

By Alan S. Hale and and Allison Smith May 26, 2021

The PC candidate for Thunder BayAtikokan, Maureen (Moe) Comuzzi, has given up the party’s nomination over the province’s decision to make the Northern Ontario School of Medicine into its own institution, separate from Lakehead University.

Comuzzi announced she won’t run for the PCs in 2022 while the government proceeds with the plan, which is fiercely opposed by Lakehead and local municipal and business leaders.

The PC’s decision to “unilaterally” separate NOSM from Lakehead “is not fiscally prudent,” she told Queen’s Park Today in an interview. “I can’t support something like this. I won’t.”

She also worries it will further harm financially beleaguered Lakehead, a large local employer and her alma mater.

The move comes via Schedule 16 of Bill 276, Supporting Recovery and Competitiveness Act, which Comuzzi wants stripped from the legislation. Instead, the PCs should consult with the community and stakeholders. “There’s a solution to every problem,” she said.

The bill is up for clause-by-clause consideration at the general government committee this Friday.

“Step in and correct this decision for the benefit of Ontario taxpayers, the medical school, and our northern community,” Commuzzi said of Premier Doug Ford, who she called a “strong and thoughtful” leader.

Comuzzi, a real estate broker, was acclaimed the Tory candidate in mid-March. At the time, party president Brian Patterson called her a strong candidate who he was proud to have on the PC team. She previously ran for the Conservative Party of Canada in 2011 and 2015.

Thunder Bay—Atikokan is currently represented by NDP MPP Judith Monteith-Farrell; the PCs placed a distant third in the riding in 2018.

Kevin Geenen, who was vying to be the PC nominee in Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, bowed out of that race last month.

The decision to wind down his nomination campaign was a “gradual one,” Geeenen tweeted at the time, noting he disagrees with the PC’s decision to cancel the basic income pilot and various environmental programs.

The PCs have been acclaiming candidates for the 2022 campaign in ridings across the province, but few, if any, open nomination races have been conducted.