Congratulations to Michael Chong

This county is pretty blessed to have good, decent people representing our interests in Ottawa and at Queen’s Park.

When Wellington-Halton Hills MP Michael Chong announced he was running for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada many locals took an interest.

People volunteered, people watched the contest with interest and yes, some bought memberships for the first time hoping to be part of a historic event had Chong been successful and won the leadership.

But success has many measurements and should not always be about the ultimate prize.

For these leadership contests, candidates have to get known and put themselves out there. Their ideas, concepts, understanding of critical issues and geographical needs – these are all characteristics a leader must demonstrate.

For Chong to place fifth out of a field of 14 (including television personality Kevin O’Leary, who remained on the ballot despite dropping out of the race), indicates to us he successfully appealed to a significant portion of the membership.

Polling taken prior to the vote suggested he resonated very well with average Canadians not affiliated with the party.

One of the more curious turns of the campaign was the purported front runner going into the convention, Maxime Bernier, extolling the virtues of dismantling supply management.

While the notion of cheaper prices at the food store perked up a few ears, the potential destruction of a certain industry by eliminating supply management is a major concern.

Wellington would be a far different county were it not for its strong dairy and poultry sectors. There is a whiff of irony associated with the speculation that Bernier lost due to this free-market position and that Chong capably represented farmers and their interests.

For Wellington residents, Chong was a good ambassador across the country. His passion for his riding is obvious and after a year of travelling Canada we are sure that experience will make him an even greater MP with a better understanding of the country.

As a still relatively young man, Chong will never suffer from the age old problem that befalls politicians who wanted to run for leader and never did. It’s quite a feat to place fifth in a leadership race for a national party. Who knows what the future brings?

Few people understand the incredible sacrifices a family makes in this line of work. It is worth suggesting the biggest winners, this round at least, are Chong’s wife Carrie and their three sons, who will have their dad back.

Congratulations, Mr. Chong.