Political bedfellows

Steve
Steve Bartlett
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Former Liberal party leader Jim Bennett is running for the Grits in St. Barbe‚ with his wife, former Ontario cabinet minister Sandra Pupatello as one of his key campaign advisers. — Photo by Steve Bartlett/The Telegram

No doubt there’s been some political pillow talk going on at Liberal candidate Jim Bennett’s house these past few weeks.

His wife, former Ontario cabinet minister Sandra Pupatello, is one of his key campaign advisers.

She sat as a member of that province’s legislature for 16 years, serving previously in the community and social services portfolio and, up until two weeks ago, minister of economic development and trade.

Bennett is thrilled to have his wife’s political experience and savvy behind him as he tries to unseat Tory incumbent Wally Young in the district of St. Barbe.

“If you can imagine having a friendly critic that you’re allowed to disagree with, because you’re under the same roof,” he says.

“That’s a phenomenal advantage,” says Bennett, who once served as Liberal leader without a seat in the House of Assembly. He also ran unsuccessfully in the same riding during the 2007 election.

Pupatello was unable to help back then because she was trying to get re-elected in the Ontario riding of Windsor West.

“I owe him because I wasn’t here last time,” she says.

Bennett says he’s been bouncing lots of ideas off his wife during the current campaign, but that’s nothing new.

“We’ve done that for as long as we’ve known each other,” he says. “We’ve done it here and in Ontario.”

The couple have been married eight years. It’s been a long-distance relationship, with Pupatello busy with her political posts in Ontario and Bennett practising law in Daniel’s Harbour.

Pupatello announced she wasn’t seeking re-election in mid-June. So, when the writ dropped on the Ontario vote Sept. 8, that chapter of her political career was over.

She’s trying to sort out what to do next and plans to take this fall to decide

“What I’m looking forward to is having a little more leeway to see my husband, and I haven’t had that for a long time,” she says.

Of course, if Bennett is successful in St. Barbe on Oct. 11, he might be the one who doesn’t have the leeway.

sbartlett@thetelegram.com

Twitter: bartlett_steve

Geographic location: Ontario, Windsor West

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