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Ava Longo, who was celebrating her 2nd birthday, reaches for her mother Jessica before posing for a photo with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and newly announced Conservative candidate Julian Fantino at restaurant in Vaughan, Ont. on Oct. 15, 2010.Darren Calabrese/The Canadian Press

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is giving newly minted Tory candidate Julian Fantino a big boost, saying the former OPP commissioner shows "the deep support that our government has throughout the law enforcement community."

Mr. Fantino earlier this week was acclaimed as the official Conservative Party candidate in the Toronto-area riding of Vaughan.

On Friday at a solar panel factory, the Prime Minister introduced Mr. Fantino, who is seeking a seat in a by-election expected in November or December.

"We're obviously honoured that former chief Fantino is running for our party," the Prime Minister said at the Solgate Inc. assembly plant in Woodbridge, Ont. "He's, as you know, a highly respected figure throughout the GTA and throughout Ontario and obviously illustrates the deep support that our government has throughout the law enforcement community for some of the things we've undertaken, particularly in terms of criminal justice reform.

That connection with law enforcement is key for the candidate as well.

"That's one of the reasons why I feel that going forward I can make a contribution to enhance safety, security, quality of life on a number of fronts," Mr. Fantino said.

The Prime Minister has advanced a law-and-order agenda, and he's "very connected with the law enforcement community," the candidate said, adding that he's running federally rather than provincially because of his national experience with operations such as anti-terrorism initiatives.

"I think this is the place for me," Mr. Fantino said.

It's too soon to say whether Mr. Fantino is in the running for a cabinet position, the Prime Minister said. "Before we speculate on his future, we will first let the voters of Vaughan make their decision."

The Prime Minister was at the solar panel factory to announce a business innovation program that will give up to $190-million over four years to help startup companies.

Afterwards, he and Mr. Fantino discussed local issues over lunch at a nearby Italian restaurant. "Nothing better than breaking bread with the Prime Minister," Mr. Fantino said.

The former top cop, who served as OPP commissioner from 2006 until his retirement in July, said he knew Mr. Harper long before he became prime minister.

The riding is a long-time Liberal stronghold. Its former MP, Maurizio Bevilacqua, is running for mayor in the Oct. 25 election.

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