Tories deny politicizing Terry Fox with $35M campaign pledge

'It would be nice if the other political parties would all double down,' MP said of pledge

PORT MOODY, B.C.— The Conservatives insist a multimillion-dollar campaign pledge to match donations raised by the Terry Fox Foundation doesn’t cross the line by leveraging the popularity of one of Canada’s most revered heroes.

Federal Industry Minister and Tory heavyweight James Moore was in Port Moody, B.C., on Sunday to announce that a re-elected Conservative government would commit up to $35 million to match donations raised during this year’s Terry Fox Run.

“It would be nice if the other political parties would all double down on our commitment and stand with the legacy of Terry Fox and say regardless of what happens on Oct. 19 that they will recognize Terry Fox as a hero and will move forward,” said Moore, who is not running for re-election.

“But it’s a commitment that will for sure be met by Stephen Harper should he be elected.”

The Terry Fox Foundation has avoided politicizing Fox’s legacy by steering clear of endorsing any particular party, and no one from Fox’s family was present for the announcement.

    “They’re aware of it,” said Moore when asked about the Fox family. “They’re enthusiastic and they think it’s great.”

    The Conservative announcement coincided with the 35th annual Terry Fox Run, which this year aims to fundraise $35 million — one dollar for every Canadian.

    “As Canadians are coming in from the rain here in the Lower Mainland and from runs all across the country they’re going to come home and realize that the money they’ve donated to the Terry Fox Foundation through the Terry Fox Run today is going to be matched by the federal government,” said Moore.

    The outgoing MP added that a Tory win on Oct. 19 would also mean $12.5 million in capital funding to help establish the Canadian Cancer Society’s proposed research and cancer-prevention centre in Vancouver. The remaining funds would come from other levels of government and private donors.

    Thirdly, Moore said a Conservative victory would see the government renew its $250-million commitment to the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer when the twice-renewed, five-year program expires in 2017.

    Conservative Leader Stephen Harper’s wife, Laureen Harper, was also on hand for the announcement, and spoke of taking part in the five-kilometre Terry Fox Run with Vancouver-area Tory MP John Weston.

    “It poured rain and we looked like drowned rats,” joked Laureen. “But it was beautiful.”

    Laureen was introduced by the region’s Conservative candidate, Tim Laidler. Laidler is aiming to wrestle control of the hotly contested riding of Port Moody-Coquitlam from NDP incumbent Fin Donnelly, who won the seat last election by a couple thousand votes.

    Electoral boundary redistribution has shaken the New Democrats’ hold in the area by bringing more Conservative supporters into the riding, which could spell trouble for Donnelly.

    Laidler also stands to benefit from Moore’s star power, as his decision not to run for re-election hasn’t stopped him from lending the party a helping hand on the campaign trail.