Retired Ticats Peter Dyakowski and Marwan Hage are teaming up again — this time to pursue Conservative nominations in Hamilton ahead of next year’s federal election.
Dyakowski, 34, retired this fall after 11 years in the CFL, all but one with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. In 2012, the popular Ticat won CBC’s “Canada’s Smartest Person” reality special.
Hage, 37, retired in 2014 after a decade with the Ticats and now owns several Tim Hortons franchises in the GTA. He is well-known for his Hage’s Heroes effort that brought thousands of kids to Ticats games and fed thousands of families.
The former offensive linesmen, who rented a CFL Hall of Fame venue at Tim Hortons Field for their announcement, said they’ve talked for years about tackling politics as a post-football career — and always identified “naturally as Conservatives.”
Dyakowski, who lives in the lower city, said he spends a lot of time on the Mountain and believes residents deserve “a stronger voice” in government. He is seeking the nomination for Hamilton Mountain, the riding currently held by New Democrat MP Scott Duvall.
Hage, who emigrated from Lebanon in the 1990s, said his decade as a football player in Hamilton “played an integral role in my life” and spurred his interest in getting involved in politics.
He is seeking the Tory nomination in Hamilton East-Stoney Creek, the riding currently held by Liberal MP Bob Bratina. Hage lives in the GTA, but said Wednesday he plans to move back to the city.
Bratina called his prospective competitor a “good guy” — although not one he will vote for — and noted he once encouraged Hage to run for city councillor. “It will be a good learning experience for them,” said the former mayor-turned-Liberal MP, who added he plans to run for re-election.
Both ridings would be a challenge for political rookies to win under the Conservative banner.
Hamilton East-Stoney Creek has not elected a Tory since the riding was created in 2003. The last time a Conservative held Hamilton Mountain was 1980.
The two would-be politicians showcased blue campaign-type signs featuring their names and prospective ridings Wednesday — if not the party name. Nomination meetings are still to come, but local Conservative organizer Ken Audziss said the duo has broad party support.
Both men said they are fans of federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer and his opposition to the Liberal government’s carbon pricing plan. Climate change is a “big issue,” said Dyakowski, but one that should be solved without “unnecessarily harming” Canada’s global competitiveness.
Neither aspiring candidate has previous elected government experience, but both have served in executive positions as part of the Canadian Football League Players Association. “We know how to make our voices heard … We’re not shrinking violets,” said Dyakowski.