“I ran once, I got rid of my election signs,” said Leroux. “I’m not doing it a second time.” Leroux’s comments were in response to a feature interview with Simard, in a regional daily newspaper, earlier in December.
In the interview, Simard complained that there was a “double standard” in the kind of criticism she has received during the past year, since she was elected MPP for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell, compared to the complaints her predecessor, Grant Crack, received when he represented GPR as a Liberal MPP. Simard alleged that complaints from Leroux and other mayors about her not being visible in the riding, or available to attend certain events are all done through the media. However, if the mayors had similar complaints about Crack, they were always expressed “discreetly” and not through local media.
“With me, it’s a different treatment,” Simard stated. “Double standards, double standards.” Simard then alleged that two of her mayoral critics have “political ambitions” and want to replace her as MPP in the next provincial election.
“So there are games being played,” she stated. “The more they attack me, the more chances they have.”
Both Leroux and Simard sat on Russell Township Council in 2018, when Ontario voters went to the polls in spring and replaced the incumbent Wynne Liberal government with Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservatives. Leroux was mayor of the township at the time while Simard was a councillor.
Both ran as candidates to become the MPP for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell as the incumbent, Grant Crack, decided not to run for reelection. Leroux was the new Liberal candidate while Simard ran for and won the seat for the Progressive Conservatives. Several months later, Simard announced she was leaving the Progressive Conservative Party to sit as an Independent MPP, in protest against the Ford government’s policies towards Ontario’s Francophone sector.
Leroux dismissed Simard’s suggestion that he might want to challenge her again for the GPR seat, during the next provincial election. He indicated that he is busy enough with his work as mayor of Russell Township. and also now with the added duty of being warden for the United Counties of Prescott-Russell in 2020.
“For me, the provincial election is in the past,” he said. “It’s time to move on.”
The Reflet-News left requests for comment at Simard’s legislative office and two constituency offices and by email. The three offices are closed for the Christmas break.