Poli sci prof running for Conservative nomination

As an individual with an extensive background in the field of political science, the decision to run for provincial government was not as obvious for Wilfrid Laurier University professor Rob Leone as one might assume. Leone explained, “If you had asked me six months ago if I would be running for provincial government, I would have said no.” Yet on Apr. 16, Leone is hoping to win the vote that would secure his nomination as the Conservative party representative for Cambridge in the upcoming provincial election.

The decision to campaign for the Conservative nomination in Cambridge, where he has lived his entire life, was one that Leone described as “a progression that took plenty of convincing from others.”

Indeed, he already has quite a bit on his plate. In addition to being an assistant professor in political science at Laurier’s Waterloo campus and in leadership and journalism at the Brantford campus, Leone launched Viewpoint Policy Consultants Inc. in 2005. The firm, he explained, “Specializes in public opinion research and political consulting.”

With a background in public policy, he has also served on several committees, including a recent stint as a member of the City of Kitchener’s Accountability and Transparency committee. In addition to his work on local government committees, Leone is the president of the Cambridge federal Conservative electoral district association.

Working with a wide variety of political actors in all levels of government, Leone said he has learned first-hand about the process of running for political office. “This experience has been invaluable to running for the nomination,” he said. Leone will be up against Andrew Johnson and Margaret Barr for the position, both of whom are former Cambridge mayoral candidates. MPP Gerry Martiniuk has held the role since 1995.

With such a packed schedule, some might wonder how Leone could balance representing the Cambridge-North Dumfries constituency in provincial government along with everything else. Thus far, he said that he has proven multi-tasking is something that he is capable of, though he would have to make concessions if he wins the nomination.

If successful in April, he will have to go on hiatus from his teaching duties at Laurier, at least for the fall semester. After that he hopes to be able to return in some capacity. For Leone, this sacrifice will be the greatest of his burgeoning political career, as he noted, “Teaching is my main passion.”