Ontario election 2014: Ottawa-area scouting leaders go head-to-head

Rod Boileau and Brian Dougherty are friends by the campfire with 2nd Arnprior Scouting but rivals on the Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke campaign trail.

Liberal, NDP candidates in Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke help run 2nd Arnprior Scouting

Rod Boileau (left, in Liberal red) and Brian Dougherty (NDP orange) pose before an all-candidates debate at Openongo High School in Douglas, Ont., Wednesday, June 4, 2014. (Andrew Foote/CBC)

Some of the only fiery exchanges between the Liberal and NDP candidates in the eastern Ontario riding of Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke came because there was an actual campfire around.

Rod Boileau is nearing the end of his first campaign as a Liberal candidate, while Brian Dougherty of the NDP is running again after a third-place finish in 2011.

They're also two-thirds of the executive of the 2nd Arnprior Scouting group, Boileau as the head (or "commissioner") and Dougherty is in charge of registration and a Cub leader.

"A couple of weekends ago we were actually camping together at a big jamboree near Fitzroy, there was over a thousand members (there)," Boileau said before an all-candidates meeting on Wednesday.

"We were about to banter a little bit and have our own little debates around the campfire."

"It's odd," Dougherty said of the optics of having two Scouting leaders on opposing sides of a race, "but it doesn't change anything,,, about how we act around each other."

Political, personal separate

Dougherty said he's been involved in Scouting since he was five and moved to Arnprior about six years ago.

Brian Dougherty is an electrician when he's not helping run the 2nd Arnprior Scouting group or running for the NDP. (Andrew Foote/CBC)

Boileau said he met Dougherty about three years ago and learned of his involvement in politics about a year and a half ago, right around the same time he started volunteering with the federal Liberals.

Both said they keep their political and Scouting lives separate.

"It has nothing to do with the kids, that's all about Scouting," Dougherty said.

"Parents find it funny, they'll make jokes... that they can't vote for us, they can't show favouritism so they'll have to vote for one of the other four candidates."

"(Kids) might see our signs, we might tell them that we're running for a position but we don't get into policy with youth," Boileau said.

Barbecues in the cards

Boileau and Dougherty said they're still friends during the campaign and don't see that changing afterward.

"Although there's nitpicking between the two of us, it's very good," Boileau said.

Rod Boileau is a software development manager by trade when not spending time as a Scouting leader or Liberal candidate. (Andrew Foote/CBC)

"After the debates are over we're going to get together for a barbecue with our families, it's not a big deal and we can put differences politically aside to remain friends."

"When it's just the two of us sitting together it's just two normal guys having a conversation about anything, sometimes politics, sometimes work, sometimes family," Dougherty said.

Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke Progressive Conservative candidate John Yakabuski agreed with Dougherty that having them come from the same Scouting group is "unusual."

He said he's run against a family friend before, Liberal candidate Sean Kelly in 2007.

"My parents were godparents to one of his siblings and his parents were godparents to one of mine, so there's a family connection there" he said

"In fact, in St. Lawrence O'Toole's cemetery, my parents are buried beside Sean's father, very next grave."

Yakabuski added he too was a Scouting leader in Barry's Bay around 15 years ago.

He beat Liberal John O'Leary by more than 21,000 votes in 2011, taking the mostly rural riding that holds Pembroke, Renfrew, CFB Petawawa and the Chalk River nuclear facility.

About the Author

Andrew Foote

CBC Reporter

Andrew Foote has been with the CBC since February 2013 after graduating from Carleton University. He can be reached at andrew.foote@cbc.ca or @amkfoote on Twitter.