MORRISBURG – Former North Dundas mayor Eric Duncan has thrown his hat into the ring and is seeking the Conservative Party of Canada nomination for Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry. Duncan made the announcement Thursday.
“I’m excited. It’s a new challenge and opportunity,” Duncan told The Leader. “I have the experience to hit the ground running between my municipal experience and being alongside MP Guy Lauzon for nine years. It has given me a unique perspective on local government but also on what needs to be done at the federal level.”
Duncan was the parliamentary assistant for retiring MP Guy Lauzon. After working for Lauzon for nine years, Duncan left that job to work for his father, Ed Duncan at JED Express, a South Mountain-based trucking company.
“That was a great experience as well, to have that private sector experience,” he said adding that his family and the employees at the company are supportive of his running.
He has also managed successful election campaigns for SDSG MPP Jim McDonell and worked as a consultant assisting new MPPs set up their offices at Queen’s Park following the June 2018 provincial election.
Duncan has aspired to be an MP since he was a kid.
“I’ve always wanted to sit in the House of Commons, serve my community, and play a part in public life,” he said.
Duncan ran for North Dundas council in 2006 as an 18-year-old political science student at Carleton University. He was elected as a councillor, and then in 2010 was elected mayor, serving two terms. Duncan also served back-to-back years as warden of SDG in 2014 and 2015. He was the first to do so. He opted not to run for office in 2018.
“Having 12 years on [municipal] council, we built a good dynamic there,” he said.
“We were able to do good things and set the right tone in the community.”
Duncan said his experience working as Lauzon’s executive assistant helped him know what is needed in the role of MP.
“There’s a lot of things that are flashy on Parliament Hill,” he said. “But what I really appreciated in being in the riding, the grassroots, the networking, and working on the case files.”
Duncan said that a lot of the work an MP does, helping people with Canada Pension Plan, or Employment Insurance issues, disability filings or passports.
“Having a team and being able to help people who are frustrated is something I love doing,” he said.
Looking ahead to the federal election, Duncan said the main issues of importance in SDSG center on small business and agriculture, as well as infrastructure needs.
“You look at the last 10-15 years these are the issues we’ve all talked about the most, and that hasn’t changed,” he said. “When you look at the rural part of SD&G, the economic growth that agriculture brings it’s huge to our area.”
Supporting agriculture in the rural parts of the riding, especially Supply Management, is very important to him.
“It is the backbone of everything else in the community,” Duncan said.
On small business, Duncan said that part of the evolving or modernizing role of an MP is bringing people together at a local level.
“Bring businesses together, share best practices, make connections, that’s how we can help make their businesses succeed,” he said.
Nationally, Duncan sees taxation issues like new federal carbon tax as having an impact on local businesses and citizens.
Duncan says the MP position has evolved to include more engagement with the public.
“I look at Jim Brownell and Guy Lauzon both. They set the bar for attending events, working on local issues and bringing back results and dollars to the riding,” he said. “I look at that and know, that’s the benchmark now.”
Being open and approachable is key to being a good MP Duncan believes.
“People should be able to feel like they can approach their MP for help if they need it, or even to give an opinion,” he said.
Should Duncan win the party nomination, he plans to be out in the community right away campaigning.
“Door-knocking, meeting people, going out in the community to build those connections and being present, that’s a key part of the job,” he said.
The SDSG Conservative riding association has not set a nomination date as of yet.
Voters will head to the polls October 19th to elect a new member of Parliament in the federal election. No other riding association in SDSG has held a nomination meeting as of yet.