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Larry Smith, the Conservative candidate for the riding of Lac-Saint-Louis, speaks with a local resident while campaigning in Kirkland, west of Montreal, on April 7, 2011. (Graham Hughes/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Larry Smith, the Conservative candidate for the riding of Lac-Saint-Louis, speaks with a local resident while campaigning in Kirkland, west of Montreal, on April 7, 2011. (Graham Hughes/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

'It's normal' for Tory ridings to get more federal cash, Larry Smith says Add to ...

Federal money naturally flows to ridings represented by the governing party, according to the star Conservative candidate in the western suburbs of Montreal.

Larry Smith, the former football player and CFL executive who briefly served as senator before the election call, says major funding follows Tory MPs.

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Mr. Smith, who is running in the Liberal stronghold of Lac-Saint-Louis, said voters are “legitimately concerned” they don’t have representation in government. He said he will make sure Montreal's West Island gets its share if he wins a seat May 2.

“I guess the reality is, if you're running a major corporation or running a country as big as Canada, you'll probably spend more of your time with the people that support you as opposed to areas that are not represented,” Mr. Smith said while taking a break door-to-door campaigning in Beaconsfield, a suburb west of Montreal.

Mr. Smith suggested major federal projects, such as airport renovations in Quebec City, have taken place where Conservative MPs were sent to Ottawa. He had to pause in mid-sentence after starting to name “the Colisée,” shorthand for Quebec City’s hockey arena, as one of the projects to get government money. (Prime Minister Stephen Harper has ruled out a major funding request for the $400 million construction project.)

“If you look across the country, where the Conservatives have had strong representation, a lot of projects have taken place. But it’s normal that you are going to focus on the areas with the people that do support you. That’s part of political life,” Mr. Smith said.

Mr. Smith may have been reflecting reality, even though candidates don’t usually admit it.

The Globe and Mail examined a high-profile stimulus program in 2009 and found Tory ridings in Ontario received 38 per cent more cash than ridings held by opposition MPs. Other news organizations found similar results in their own examinations of other regions of the country.

The entire west end of the city has long voted Liberal, and Conservatives have been shut out in the entire Montreal region since they won power in 2006. In the last election in 2008, Mr. Smith's chief rival, incumbent Liberal Francis Scarpaleggia, won by nearly 12,000 votes.

Mr. Smith, takes pride in his self-proclaimed status as a non-professional politician, caused a controversy in the first week, when he suggested Quebec’s struggle to protect the French language was a fight of the past.

He clarified his statement again on Thursday, saying he was simply echoing the thoughts of francophone students who told him they are more interested in looking at the world beyond Quebec.

“It had nothing to do with language, it was about looking forward rather as opposed to looking back,” Mr. Smith said.

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