Editor's note: With a byelection set for Feb. 25 in the York-Simcoe riding, BarrieToday's sister site in Bradford has been profiling the candidates. The riding includes Bradford West Gwillimbury in southern Simcoe County as well as extensive shoreline along Lake Simcoe and Cook's Bay. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the byelection in January following the retirement of Peter Van Loan last September. Van Loan held the MP position for 14 years.
Dorion Baxter, a local Elvis tribute artist and archbishop at Christ the King, Graceland Church in Newmarket, wants to be York-Simcoe's federal representative.
Known as "Elvis Priestley," he is the Progressive Canadian Party candidate in the Feb. 25 federal byelection in York-Simcoe.
He also has long-standing political associations that pre-date the amalgamation of the federal Progressive Conservative and Reform parties in 2003.
“My first sort of foray was supporting Preston Manning, with the Reform Party,” Baxter said.
Although he said he was disappointed when Stockwell Day beat Manning for the Reform leadership, he fully supported the democratic process. It was the ouster that followed, when others in the party “ganged up” on Day, that led him to quit.
“I was mortified,” he said, citing numerous violations of party bylaw.
Baxter switched to the Progressive Conservative Party, pleased when Peter McKay won the support of David Orchard’s delegates by promising the party would “never hook up with the Canadian Reform Alliance and (Stephen) Harper.”
When the PCs and Reform parties amalgamated, again violating party bylaws, Baxter and others left and “immediately mounted a court case.” After four years, a judge agreed the amalgamation wilfully violated the Canadian Elections Act and gave permission to start a new PC party - only they had to call it the Progressive Canadian Party.
Under the leadership of the Hon. Sinclair Stevens, Baxter said, “we laid claim to the original PC Party of Sir John A. McDonald. We’ve been at war with the Conservative Party.”
There are at least 197 potential Progressive Canadian Party candidates for the 2019 fall federal election. Baxter entered the York-Simcoe byelection not only because lives in the riding but because he’s “testing the waters.”
Among the key issues in York-Simcoe are construction of the Highway 400-404 Connecting Link, he said.
“I know it’s provincial, but it’s also federal, in terms of the money,” Baxter said, suggesting the potential for federal funding.
He also pointed to education and health care, which he said have “been downloaded in an irresponsible way” to the provinces. “We have to try to get health care back to where it was in the 1970s,” he said.
Baxter, who has been padre for the Newmarket Veterans for over a decade, is critical of Conservatives – whom he calls “Neocons” – and Liberals.
“Neither party has kept their promises to the veterans. We have a covenant with these people.”
Incivility in parliament, immigration, and the $50-billion federal deficit are all concerns.
“This is ridiculous. Our children and our grandchildren are going to be saddled with this unbelievable debt,” Baxter said.
Baxter himself is an immigrant, coming to Canada 51 years ago. He still retains a soft British accent.
But he is concerned about the amount being spent to house illegal immigrants and claimants.
“You don’t open your borders to every Tom, Dick and Harry,” he said. “There has to be some sanity here.”
As for the environment, Baxter said he supports a carbon tax, but “something reasonable,” and warned that “Neocon” policies could lead to rising pollution levels. “I’m very concerned about climate. Anyone who doesn’t think there is a real issue, you have to think again.”
Progressive Canadian candidates are “four for the price of one,” Baxter said. “Blue Liberal, Red Tory, greener than the Greens… and our left wing can literally run rings around the NDP.”
He is hoping that in the byelection, voters will “take a chance on me.”
With seven months until the federal election, he said, it’s the perfect opportunity to try an alternative candidate.
“My mantra has been, 'Give me a chance,'” said Baxter, calling Conservatives and Liberals “the same darn thing under a different flag.”
Baxter said he is running because “I have a deep, deep love for this country… I have a deep and abiding love of people.”
The Progressive Canadians, he said, are “the only party that still adheres to the Westminster model of parliamentary democracy… You don’t elect for the party, you elect for the person.”
And as an Elvis tribute artist, he promised to bring ELVIS to politics: “E is excellence, L is loyalty to Canada, V represents a vote for vitality… The I in Elvis is inspiration, to re-inject the Canadian identity… S will absolutely guarantee success.”
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