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'Pretty shocked'

Former Thunder Bay-Superior North candidates think Bruce Hyer might be in for some difficult times in the wake of his decision to go Independent.
Maurice Grinstead said the riding association has to move forward. (Jamie Smith,

Former Thunder Bay-Superior North candidates think Bruce Hyer might be in for some difficult times in the wake of his decision to go Independent.

Hyer announced Monday that he was quitting the NDP caucus citing the dysfunction of Parliament and his inability to represent constituents through the party system along with several other reasons for his decision. Nipigon mayor Richard Harvey, who as a Conservative came second to Hyer in the last federal election, said he wasn’t surprised by Hyer’s announcement but questions the motive.

“When Mr. Hyer ran in the last election a lot of the issues that have become issues that he’s now talking about were things that you could have foreseen coming forward,” Harvey said.

Harvey said it’s interesting that the past two MPs for Thunder Bay-Superior North have become Independent. But Hyer might have a more difficult time than former MP Joe Commuzzi who was booted from the Liberal Party.

“I’m not going to say it can’t be done but at the same time the reality is typically what we have seen is it’s not been as effective (sitting as an independent). I think Mr. Commuzzi , because of the reputation he had established for himself amongst the other MPs, he was able to effectively continue to lobby for us,” Harvey said. ““Can (Hyer) do that? We’ll have to wait and see.”

Former Liberal candidate Yves Fricot doesn’t think Hyer’s decision was good news for the riding. Fricot said he was disappointed when he heard the news.

“I don’t’ think that sitting as an Independent, particularly in the circumstances that this one occurred with comments about his leader who is now the leader of the opposition, are particularly helpful to our riding and I’m not sure that the issues that Bruce picked to focus on in the future are the most important issues for our riding,” Fricot said.

As for whether the candidates would want to see a by-election, Harvey said what’s done is done.

“We have to remember in Canada we do elect the individual. I would not be calling for a by-election. I think those people who are have this idea that we voted for a party, I’m sorry but in Canada we vote for the individual,” Harvey said. “With Bruce he is still the person that was elected and at this point he needs to continue representation in the best way he can.”

Fricot said Hyer needs to consult with constituents on whether or not they would want to see it. Hyer seems to want to focus on issues that are less important to the riding than federal issues like First Nations living conditions and maximizing opportunities from emerging industries like mining he added.

“I think it’s a legitimate question today given what he says he wants to focus on for the rest of his term whether that’s what the people of the riding want,” he said. “Those are all things in which the federal government plays a key roles and I find it difficult to believe that you can have greater influence on those questions for the benefit of the people in Thunder Bay-Superior North sitting as an Independent in the back row of the House of Commons.”

For Thunder Bay-Superior North NDP Riding Association president Maurice Grinstead, Hyer’s decision was a shock. Hyer called him about one minute before news broke and apologized.

“It was a very difficult moment for me,” Grinstead said. “At that point I couldn’t change his mind he just told me this is what’s happening sorry to do this and we’ll talk later.”

Friends for more than 30 years, Grinstead said he’s sure the two will talk it out over a beer one day but for now, the riding association has to focus on a future without their two-time MP.


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