Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak is reaching into Canada's top executive ranks for his latest star candidate, bringing in real estate executive Simon Nyilassy to run in a west Toronto riding.
He will be running in the provincial district of Etobicoke-Lakeshore, where he will be up against Liberal cabinet minister Laurel Broten in this fall's election. The federal election signalled that the riding may be ready to go Tory, after Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff lost the seat to a Conservative.
The new provincial candidate spent some time door-knocking in the federal campaign, and that helped pique his interest in politics, as well as give him a sense for what voters in the area want.
"Talking to residents of the community, it's clear the economy and bills they have to pay are high on their minds," he said in an interview Wednesday morning before his candidacy was officially announced.
In six years at the helm, he grew Calloway into one of the country's largest publicly traded real estate companies, but was looking for something new. Calloway is best known for being the main Canadian landlord for Wal-Mart, and has grown as Wal-Mart has spread across Canada.
"That was fun, don't get me wrong," Mr. Nyilassy said. "Looking forward, I wanted a different challenge than growing it from $5-billion to $10-billion."
Mr. Nyilassy, 55, said he expects that if he wins, his experience as head of a real estate investment trust will be helpful in a government that's focused on reducing expenses. REITs are a business that is all about keeping costs down so that more of the rent collected from tenants flows down to the bottom line.
"Running a REIT, you learn how to be efficient, so every dollar goes through to the unitholders."
Prior to running Calloway, Mr. Nyilassy was an executive with SmartCentres, a development company that specializes in big-box malls.