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PROFILE: Conservative Gladu building name recognition

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Editor’s Note: The Journal is profiling the four candidates competing to be the next federal Member of Parliament for Sarnia-Lambton. This is the first in a four-part series appearing daily this week.

Cathy Dobson

When her campaign began, Sarnia-Lambton’s Conservative candidate Marilyn Gladu wasn’t sure there was value in old-fashioned door-to-door canvassing.

But she had a change of heart since homeowners began responding positively at the door, she said.

“I don’t think I was a big believer at the start.  I thought, ‘What drudgery,’ until I saw that people were forming their opinion after meeting and listening to me. Then I saw that’s where the decisions are happening.

“So now I’m a big fan of canvassing.  We try to get out four to six hours every day,” she said.

With several weeks to go before the Oct. 19 election, she estimates she’s knocked on 10,000 doors already.

For a first-time candidate going into the campaign with a relatively low profile, that one-on-one appears critical.

Gladu, 52, was president of the Sarnia-Lambton Conservative Riding Association until she won the nomination.  She has also had a number of prominent positions in her professional life as an engineer, currently at WorsleyParsons as the business director of refining and chemicals for eastern North America.

For instance, she has been local chair of the Canadian Society of Chemical Engineers and volunteers with the Bluewater Technology Access Centre Advisory Council.

But for many residents she is largely unknown so is working to introduce herself to the electorate.

Gladu grew up in St. Catharines, the daughter of a schoolteacher and CAW worker at General Motors.

“So I’m well-acquainted with unions,” she says.

She studied chemical engineering at Queen’s University and immediately had two job offers in Sarnia, one at Polysar and one at Dow Chemical.

She worked at Dow for 21 years before moving to Suncor as director of engineering. During that time, she was deeply involved in the productivity, safety and financing of the $1-billion Genesis Project.

“I’ve travelled globally for my work and had lots of opportunity to move, but I didn’t because I love it here,” she said. “There’s unique collaboration that happens here, a warmth to the area.

“I’m from Petrolia, so it’s a very small town feel out there, everybody knows everybody; it’s safe, there’s not stressful traffic.

“There are a lot of good things about the quality of life here that I think are excellent.”

The divorced mother of two raised her daughters in Petrolia and now her elderly mother has moved there too. Daughter Gillian, 24, is a supply teacher in Burlington while Katie, 22, is in the nursing program at Lambton College.

Gladu said she went after the Conservative nomination because she wants to see better-paying jobs come to Sarnia.

“We need to do things differently or we’ll turn into a retirement community,” she said.

So far on the campaign trail, she’s convinced that canvassing is paying off.

“When they get to know you at the door, 60-to-70% are pledging their support in the county, and 50% or better say they’ll support me in Sarnia,” she said.

“The reality is I’ve been campaigning since I got the nomination in February.

It’s all about getting my name out there, going to meet-and-greets and canvassing. Every day is busy.”

Then there are the ten local debates, probably more than in any election in memory.

Debates take a lot of prep time and usually don’t attract more than 100 people, said Gladu, who didn’t sound like a big fan.

“In the time we spend preparing, we could be knocking on 400 or 500 doors.”


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