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Soccer, hockey games to replace debates for retiring Perth Wellington MPP Randy Pettapiece

Randy Pettapiece is retiring from provincial politics after serving for more than a decade. Now in his 70’s, age was a factor, he told StratfordToday. So was a desire to spend more time with his family.
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Randy Pettapiece is retiring from provincial politics.

Voters won’t know who will represent Perth-Wellington until after the June 2 election, but one thing is for certain: A new representative will be making the trips to Queen’s Park.

Randy Pettapiece is retiring from provincial politics after serving for more than a decade. Now in his 70’s, age was a factor, he told StratfordToday. So was a desire to spend more time with his family.

“It is time to step away and do some other things.”

That includes more hockey, more soccer and more time at his cottage. His three boys have six grandchildren between them. There will be a lot to do upon retirement.

Pettapiece has been a fixture on the local political scene. He defeated Liberal incumbent John Wilkinson by a narrow margin – just 210 votes – way back in the 2011 provincial election.

The MPP recalled that he picked up on the issues in the riding, notably the Liberal’s Green Energy Act. He was admittedly not well known in the area, but there was a push for him to run from local conservatives. Defeating Wilkinson, a cabinet minister, was a surprising result for some.

In 2014, he was re-elected, winning by 2,486 votes over Liberal Stewart Skinner and again served in opposition to Premier Kathleen Wynne’s Liberal government. Four years on, he was elected a third time – winning by 9,351 votes over NDP candidate Michael O’Brien. Progressive Conservatives, led by Doug Ford, won 76 of 124 seats to form a majority government. Andrea Horwath’s NDP became the official opposition. The Liberals lost official party status, winning just seven ridings in the province.

Pettapiece said he has worked hard for the people of Perth-Wellington, and was happy to see more people vote for him as the years rolled along.

“If they don’t like you and don’t like your government they are not going to vote for you.”

Pettapiece said there were a lot of highlights over the years. He worked with municipal and county leaders to keep Hillside Manor long term care home beds in the county – after owner Revera Canada had initially planned to move the beds to London, sparking opposition in the community. The company has since committed to a new build in the county. The Progressive Conservatives have committed to 30,000 long-term care spaces over 10 years.

A provincial funding commitment of $4 billion for ‘Ontario Connects’ intends to connect every region in the province to high speed internet by 2025. A big part of that is rural broadband expansion.

Broadband availability restrictions were prevalent during the pandemic, when businesses shifted emphasis to online and students were at home learning on laptops, he said. The agricultural industry also relies heavily on internet availability for automation.

“We have just gone through a tendering process, to really ramp this up.”

Pettapiece said the last few years were challenging, as the government dealt with the pandemic.

“We just couldn’t seem to get a handle on how to stop this thing. We tried to assemble the best scientific minds that we could find and take their advice. Certainly we were not going to please everyone.”

Pettapiece said recent figures from the pandemic show some reason for encouragement, though he noted it is still around and people are still in the hospital.

“Some businesses were really hit hard – restaurants, entertainment. The Stratford Festival, Drayton Festival in Wellington County, we did step up as a government and provided funds to keep going.”

“It’s frustrating for me, frustrating for everyone in the riding.”

“I think when this chapter is written in the history books, you will see some mistakes were made, but there was no playbook on this one. When you are in government you try to make the best decisions you can."

Pettapiece said he will miss the memories of serving the riding at Queen’s Park and knows that very few individuals get to serve as MPP. Spending about half the year in Toronto is tough when your family is far away – but he has always enjoyed getting back to the riding and talking to constituents.

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Paul Cluff

About the Author: Paul Cluff

Paul has worked at media outlets in St. Thomas, Goderich, Woodstock and Stratford, where he has lived since 2002. The Editor of enjoys coaching Special Olympics basketball and soccer in his spare time, and playing golf.
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