Source: Facebook

A former MP hoping to reclaim his Toronto-area riding in Parliament must first win what’s becoming a hotly contested nomination race.

Former Richmond Hill MP Costas Menegakis is battling former National Post columnist Sabrina Maddeaux for the Conservative nomination in Aurora—Oak Ridges—Richmond Hill.

The winner will face Liberal MP Leah Taylor Roy in the next general election.

With the Conservatives riding high in the polls after nine years of Justin Trudeau’s Liberals, Menegakis says the stakes are elevated.

“This is one of the most important elections in Canadian history. What’s happened over the better part of the last nine years in our country is unprecedented,” he said in an interview with True North. “The damage is tremendous. We’ve never seen it before. This is a time when we need experienced hands.”

In addition to serving as an MP, Menegakis was the former parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Chris Alexander, from September 2013 to October 2015.

Menegakis served one term in Parliament but lost in 2015, 2019, and 2021.

He needed special permission from the Conservative Party of Canada to seek the nomination this time around as the party’s rules prohibit candidates who have lost two elections from running without getting a waiver granted.

“I’ve lost elections before, and that’s not a secret. Most people who are involved in the electoral system understand that candidates are worth a small percentage of the actual vote that they get,” Menegakis said.

According to Menegakis, in federal and provincial elections, people generally vote along party lines rather than for an individual politician.

He credits the last election’s losses to federal issues and the Liberal Party of Canada’s effectiveness at appealing to NDP voters.

“Many good people lost their seats in the last election,” he said. “The work Trudeau did in his policies to grab those NDP votes cost many of us our seats and elections in hotly contested regions of the country.

Menegakis’ opponent in the nomination, National Post columnist Sabrina Maddeaux, has never sought political office.

“She’s a competent columnist. I’ve read some of her stuff from the National Post, but Sabrina has no connection to the riding,” Menegakis said.

Maddeaux refuted that in an email to True North.

“I was born and raised in Richmond Hill. Sadly, thanks to Trudeau’s years of mismanagement, I, like many of my peers, am locked out of home ownership in the community I grew up in but have always proudly called Richmond Hill my home,” she said.

Menegakis accused Maddeaux of being a fair-weather Conservative, noting that few people want to run for the party when the Conservatives are down in the polls. Still, candidates emerge when the party is popular.

“I’ll use the word immature. To say, ‘He lost, but I can win,’ in an environment where you’re ahead 15 points in the polls…without having contributed before… to me is disingenuous,” he said.

Maddeaux responded by saying the Conservatives need “fresh faces with new ideas,” touting her enjoyment of knocking on doors in the riding and “meeting so many people who share the same concerns as me.”

Menegakis is no stranger to campaigning for political office. In previous elections, he says his team has consistently been in the top ten for most doors knocked on in the country.

He says the longer it takes for the nomination date, the more doors he and his team will knock on.

Both candidates say they’ve successfully signed new members up to the Conservative party to vote in the race.

At the doors, Menegakis has met with constituents from all age groups who he said have restored confidence in Pierre Poilievre’s Conservative party.

“I have never heard such disdain for a sitting government and such hope for the leader of the opposition,” Menegakis said. “I believe (Poilievre) will be Canada’s next prime minister. And…I believe he will be an outstanding prime minister because he’s focused on the issues that matter the most to Canadians.”

If nominated, Menegakis says he will be an “experienced hand at the wheel” and a “strong voice” for the riding.

Menegakis said he has a record of being a constituency-focused MP, advocating for issues that matter to the riding.

He pledges to advocate for reducing taxes, focusing on affordability, investing in infrastructure, bringing business back to Canada and “responsible immigration,” something he says will be closer to Canada’s immigration policy when he was an MP, and Stephen Harper was the prime minister, with an emphasis on economic migration.

He said the Conservative party must focus on transparency and accountability going forward.

“After (Trudeau’s) out of office next year, and I firmly believe he will be, we’ll start coming back. We’ll come back to Canada,” Menegakis said. “I think better days are ahead, although there is a lot of hard work to be done to get there.”

Nominations are decided by Conservative Party of Canada members who live in the riding. The party has not yet set a date for the Aurora—Oak Ridges—Richmond Hill nomination.