George Pirie doesn't consider himself a politician.
A retired mining executive, his first foray into politics was in 2018 when he threw his hat in the ring to be Timmins' mayor. He won that campaign and is now looking for a seat at Queen's Park as the Progressive Conservative candidate for Timmins in the Ontario election. He's currently on an unpaid leave from the mayor's position.
It was about two years ago that Pirie started seriously considering running for MPP. At the start of 2021, he launched a website — George Pirie - Let's Build A Better Tomorrow — that hinted at a run for higher office. His candidacy was confirmed in October 2021.
The Côté Gold Project in the Gogama-area that broke ground in 2020, that Pirie said languished for 17 years, is one of the factors in his decision.
“As a mining guy it was very, very, very disheartening for me to see that ore body – and that’s probably a critical mass of 20 million ounces — just could not get it going, could not get it across the line. So we started working with the provincial government and they responded with a senior environmental person to get the permits done. Quite frankly, I was always very, very encouraged with the attitude that we have to make things happen here in the north,” he said.
Ultimately, Pirie says Timmins needs a partner in Queen's Park. He thinks he's the guy.
“It’s largely what I’ve been doing in the last three and plus years in the City of Timmins anyway,” he said.
The key issues in this campaign, he said, are all about turning the corner and growing Timmins and Northern Ontario again.
"It’s the same themes that I’ve had for a number of years about the projects we’ve got on the go and how we have to seize the day in the City of Timmins. I firmly believe that Timmins and Northern Ontario, we’ve got everything that the world wants and we’ve got to go after it,” he said.
On the campaign trail, he said people are talking about the basics like infrastructure and what needs to be done "to get the city back on the map again."
“I think they know me and hopefully they think I’m a good mayor, hopefully they think that I’ve done a good job. I hope they know that I’ve advocated strongly on all the difficult files within the City of Timmins and led the charge on whether it be homelessness or Indigenous or opiate crisis or any or other difficult issues, I’ve been there. Hopefully, they think I’ve done a good job and it’s the same issues that we’ll be fighting on and working to improve within the province,” he said.
The Ontario election is June 2.
The other Timmins candidates are incumbent NDP Gilles Bisson, New Blue David Farrell, Green Elizabeth Lockhard, and Ontario Provincial Confederation of Regions Party Nadia Sadiq.