The election that is on everyone’s mind is the municipal race, with just more than a month until Election Day.
But there is another race underway in the federal riding of York-Simcoe. Sitting MP Peter Van Loan has announced he will be retiring from the political arena at the end of this term – leaving a vacancy in the Conservative Party of Canada. The race is now on to nominate a candidate in the riding, for next year’s federal election.
Three candidates have stepped forward to seek the nomination, and the clock is ticking. Each is working to sign up supporters – people willing to join the Conservative Party of Canada and pay the $15 fee, and come out to a future nomination meeting to vote. And they only have until Sept. 27 to build that base of support.
Scot Davidson is a lifelong resident of Sutton, businessman, and entrepreneur.
Fresh out of university with a degree in economics, he returned to Georgina to open a coffee shop. Later business ventures included a bar, and then the launch of Fish Crisp – a company producing a fish coating product that was sold in the Sporting Goods departments of stores across North America, including Canadian Tire, Home Hardware and Walmart.
The story of Fish Crisp is actually one of the drivers that has led Davidson to politics and his bid for the Conservative Party of Canada nomination for candidate in riding of York-Simcoe.
Davidson bought the recipe for the product from a bush pilot, who he said used to prepare the coating in Ziploc bags and sell it to the anglers who came out to fish in the wilderness.
Recipe in hand, Davidson and a partner launched Fish Crisp in Jackson’s Point – taking the unusual approach to marketing by selling the food product alongside sporting goods.
Fish Crisp went “from a product in a Ziploc bag, to 10 SKUs sold across North America,” Davidson said, and it won Product of the Year at Walmart four times.
Then came the crash of 2008. Suddenly, U.S. contracts dried up. Davidson approached the Business Development Bank of Canada for “a hand up, not a hand out” to help weather the storm – and was met with silence.
The partners received a call from McCormick Canada, the spice and specialty food company, and sold out.
Davidson used his share of the money to purchase a marina and ice-fishing operation, but what he calls the refusal of the Canadian government to support small businesses during a time of economic crisis has always stuck in his mind. And now that MP Peter Van Loan plans to retire from politics, he sees an opportunity.
“Now is my time. I want to give back what I’ve learned in my life,” Davidson said. “You are electing political representatives to get things done – and that’s not happening.”
He wants to bring his own grassroots work ethic – working 16-hour days, providing the kind of daily commitment that he brought to the ice-fishing industry - “My employees depend on me, the people who are coming out depend on me” – to politics.
“I want to be a person that people can reach out to. My whole campaign is about small business,” Davidson said, criticizing the Liberal government for their economic failures over the past three years.
“Kicked out of China, kicked out of India, they can’t get a deal with NAFTA, Calgary is sitting there and the pipeline can’t get built – I think people are holding on by their fingernails. I think the storm is out there, and it’s coming.”
He wants to be part of changing the direction of the federal government.
“To me, it’s almost as if they’re against small business. To me, the entrepreneurial spirit has been sucked out of Canada. We have to bring that back. Support us, that’s what I’m saying.”
Davidson’s other goals include being “inclusive of everyone who is out there working hard – if you are working hard, I’m with you” – and getting needed infrastructure “built quick, with less red tape.”
He is referring specifically to the Bradford Bypass, or Highway 400-404 Connecting Link.
“I can stand on a rock in Georgina and nearly see Bradford, yet it takes me an hour to get there,” Davidson said, noting the route has been in discussion for more than 30 years. “Let’s build it. That’s what you need to do.”
He has invited constituents to check out his Facebook page. It’s a page filled with images of him at work – most recently, laying sod.
He said he has been urged to change his presence on Facebook to make it more aggressively political, but that what viewers see is just who he is.
Davidson is hoping more people will connect with him, consider joining the Conservative Party – and will express their issues, whether federal or provincial.
He will be holding a meet-and-greet event in Pefferlaw this Saturday, Sept. 22 at 2 p.m. at 73 Duclos Point Rd.
“It’s all about being inclusive. The point of this whole exercise is we are all in this together,” Davidson said. “We’re all working together.”