For 35 years Cam Jackson was in the political spotlight in Burlington.
Jackson represented the city in the Ontario Legislature for 21 years, longer than any other person. He then served as mayor for four more years before losing to Rick Goldring in the 2010 municipal election.
Before that he was a trustee on the Halton Board of Education for 10 years.
Now at the age of 67 Jackson is focusing on helping the needy.
He has been doing missionary work to aid the people of Haiti and also serving as chair of the Toronto Foundation for Student Success, which provides a student nutrition program, vision care, hearing aid programs etc. in the Toronto School Board, the second largest school board in North America.
Jackson is a member of the Volunteer Board of Joy and Hope for Haiti, which sends containers of food and medical supplies to the impoverished country. He will make his second trip to Haiti in May. He still serves as chair of Burlington Food Share locally.
Jackson knows all too well the hurdles candidates must clear in running for the Progressive Conservative party leadership. At the age of 38 he himself sought to become Tory leader in 1990 at a time when the party was attempting to make a comeback, as it is now.
The party held only 17 of the 130 seats in the Legislature and was $4 million in debt. Today it has just 28 of the 107 seats.
The leadership campaign began in early January of 1990, but by the second week of February Jackson had withdrawn his name.
“We were unable to raise the necessary dollars that we feel we would need in order to mount the kind of campaign we are capable of,” he told The Toronto Star.
“Even though I have been able to reach the hearts and minds of a lot of Conservatives in this province, I have not been able to reach into their pocketbooks.”
Mike Harris went on to become party leader, but the Tories placed third in the September election behind both the NDP and Liberals.
There was speculation that Jackson would run for the leadership again in 2004, but instead he endorsed John Tory.
Jackson supported Christine Elliott in this year’s leadership race.
“She has the experience,” Jackson said. “She has a professional background, she was a bank auditor.
“Conservative governments traditionally are brought in to fix the mess left by Liberal and NDP governments.
Jackson said a lack of assertiveness probably cost Elliott victory in the 2015 leadership race.
Patrick Brown won the leadership race in 2015 with 61.8% of votes allocated. Elliott was second with 38.2%.
Jane McKenna, the PC candidate for the riding of Burlington this year, supported Caroline Mulroney. Mulroney was in Burlington to greet party members at the Burlington Art Gallery on Feb. 26.
“I feel people are looking for a change, they want somebody fresh,” McKenna said. “People do tire of career politicians.
Brook Dyson, president of the Burlington Progressive Conservative Association, said close to 1,000 party members from the riding were eligible to vote.
McKenna represented Burlington in the Legislature from 2011 to 2014. She was defeated by Liberal Eleanor McMahon in the 2014 election.
McKenna said she has been focusing on winning back the seat.
“I want to make sure Burlington is where my focus and energy are,” she said.
McKenna said she has been knocking on doors for the last seven months.
“I’m finding people want change,” she said. “They’re tired of government taking advantage of them.”
Although he’s no longer in politics, Jackson still is critical of the Liberal government. He said the Liberals burned off $2 billion in two cancelled gas plant projects.
“I can’t afford my hydro bills,” he said. “Their approach to green energy has become the largest single drain on our hydro system. Hydro coasts two to three cents a kilowatt hour. It’s eight, nine or 10 cents to produce green energy.
“We are not going to be able to meet the demand on the grid with wind turbines, if there is a bigger need in the future.”