Editor’s note: This the first in a series of Sarnia-Lambton candidate profiles in the run-up to the June 12 provincial election.
Bob Bailey is running a little bit behind as he canvases door-to-door in Point Edward, but only because he stopped to talk to some contractors at the Bridge Tavern.
“I went in to say hi and we got talking about issues. They were all guys I know from industry, all well known in our community and they are concerned about the Ontario College of Trades.
“It’s got to go. It’s causing disruptions on the job site. (PC Leader) Tim Hudak says the College of Trades will be one of the first things gone if we’re given the honour of representing the people of Ontario.”
Bailey, Sarnia-Lambton’s representative at Queen’s Park since 2007, runs into people who want to talk everywhere he goes.
“I guess you’d call me an extrovert,” he laughs. “This is the greatest job in the world as far as I’m concerned.”
That may surprise some who know how much criticism is levelled at politicians.
“Lots of times we’re people’s last hope and a lot of time we can help them or give them some satisfaction,” says Bailey. “I have people every day who come to me and tell that I helped or my staff did.
“Everything I did in my life prepared me for this job,” he says. “It’s a lot of responsibility but I love it.”
Bailey, 64, grew up in Oil City where he met his childhood sweetheart, Elizabeth, and married her 44 years ago. They have three grown children and two grandkids who help on the campaign trail. The Baileys moved to Petrolia in 2006.
He has deep roots with the PC party and worked on Sarnia-Lambton MPP Lorne Henderson’s campaigns in the 1970s and 80s. Bailey served on Enniskillen Township council and several terms on the hospital board in Petrolia.
He’s been employed by Nova Chemical for 35 years, operated a crane for about 20 years, and eventually becoming a contract co-ordinator.
Since becoming MPP seven years ago he’s been on a leave with Nova.
“I’m proud that I come from industry here,” says Bailey. “It gives me some credibility to talk about labour issues.”
He kept his crane operator’s licence for years but recently stopped renewing it when the College of Trades jacked the price to $120 plus HST a year.
“If you go on the Internet, it shows me delinquent. That’s why. I won’t pay that much out of principle.”
He’s aware Hudak has taken a beating in the early campaign polls but insists it’s not what his leader does that’s important for Sarnia-Lambton.
“I focus on my election, the work I’ve done,” says Bailey. “What’s important to me is bringing jobs here and getting the fathers back home who have gone out west for work.
“They should be here taking their kids to baseball and soccer. That’s what I’m focused on.”
Name: Bob Bailey
Party: Progressive Conservative
Occupation: Contract co-ordinator
Previous elections: 1 municipal (won), 2 provincial (won both)
Marital status: Married to Elizabeth for 44 years
Most important issue? Jobs, economy, giving people hope.
– Cathy Dobson