The Loss of Two Good Men

Our federal riding of  Lanark-Frontenac-Lennox & Addington lost two good men this week.

Liberal candidate David Remington was not successful in his bid to become our representative in Ottawa, and Larry McCormick, our Liberal Member of Parliament from 1993 to 2004, died .  I knew Larry was not well, but I was shocked by his death. It was comforting to learn that he’d died at home, surrounded by loved ones. My deepest sympathy to his family.

David learned a lot from Larry McCormick, not least of which was how to be present in your riding. No matter how far he had to travel, or how long a day it would be, Larry was always there for community events on Canada Day, and other special occasions. And he was always smiling, and extending his hand with a warm, firm grip. He was always very sincere and friendly. When you talked to him, he listened—genuinely listened. Larry regularly visited his constituency offices to meet people in the riding, and he met constituents in his Ottawa office too. He worked hard for the people in his riding. He’d learned the value of working hard for people even before he went to Parliament Hill.

For more than 25 years Larry and his wife Reta ran a general store in the village of Camden East, located about 15 kilometres northeast of Napanee, where I moved with my family in 1993. Shortly after we moved, I met Larry when I stopped in the store while out for a country drive. It was a general store, and had everything villagers, or visitors, would need. When Larry decided to retire, and then run for office for the federal election in 1993, the McCormack’s sold the store. It’s had a few owners since, but it always has been, and always will be “McCormick’s.”

Larry took those same people skills that made his store so successful and transferred them to his political career, which was very successful until 2004 when the riding was re-aligned and Larry found himself pitted against another MP, Scott Reid, from the then Alliance, now Conservative, party. It wasn’t so much a case of Larry losing the riding, because he was still tremendously liked and respected here; it was a case of Scott winning because he had stronger support in the larger part of this riding, and the Alliance/Reform party was gaining popularity. To his credit, Scott set up offices in both parts of this large riding, and tries to connect with people as he can, but he does not  have the same people skills.

Larry showed David Remington how to go out and meet people, and make sure you get around to as much as the riding as you possibly can. He took David with him to Ottawa as his parliamentary assistant once David’s municipal political career had ended. (David was a municipal councillor, deputy mayor and then mayor of Napanee.) David learned what was involved in being an MP and decided to run in 2008. Once again, the main opponent was Scott Reid, who won the riding, but David continued to make his presence known.

Through Larry, David learned the value of being personal and available to constituents. In the past year, and in the election campaign, David set up roundtable discussions to learn what people in the riding cared about. He set up town hall meetings if there were not all-candidates meetings in communities. He used all media at his disposal—traditional and social—to get his message, and the message of the Liberal party, out to the people. But they weren’t listening.

People in this riding must have been paying more attention to the loud noises being made by the the Conservative party, and the roar of the Orange Wave. They voted with the country giving Conservative Scott Reid a majority victory, and second place to NDP candidate Doug Smyth. I don’t understand what our voters here were thinking, but I respect their decision.

I hope that we have not lost David as a Liberal candidate and he will run again, but four years is a long time. Rightly so, David is not making those kinds of decisions right now.

David has run successful businesses, been a municipal politician, and worked as a consultant. He continues to be a strong community volunteer. He will return to his job with the Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth, where I’m sure his talents for bringing people together to solve problems and find solutions are well used.

First, David will pay his respects to his friend and colleague Larry McCormick, from whom he learned so much.

This riding has lost a good man in Larry McCormick. But we still have David Remington. If we’re lucky, we’ll have him in Ottawa too.

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