Ontario byelection called to fill vacant seats in two ridings
Allison Jones, The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, October 19, 2016 12:01PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, October 19, 2016 4:20PM EDT
TORONTO -- The countdown is on to two Ontario byelections next month, including one in a previously safe Liberal riding that is being threatened by an outspoken, high-profile Tory.
Ottawa-Vanier, which was left vacant this summer when former attorney general Madeleine Meilleur resigned, has been held by the Liberals since 1971, but the Progressive Conservatives are gunning for an upset.
"We welcome voters having an opportunity to send Premier (Kathleen) Wynne a message -- that government is supposed to work for the people of Ontario, not the other way around," Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown said in a statement.
Wynne said the party has great candidates in both ridings.
"They will be hard-fought byelections, there is no doubt about that, but I'm very confident in the candidates we've got," she said.
The Progressive Conservative candidate in Ottawa-Vanier is former ombudsman Andre Marin, who frequently ruffled government feathers during his 10 years on the job. A prolific tweeter with a flair for the dramatic, Marin scooped officials on the Nov. 17 date for the byelection Wednesday, as he tweeted it out before Elections Ontario.
It's not the first time a byelection date came from a candidate instead of the elections agency. It was the Liberal candidate in Scarborough-Rouge River who first announced that byelection would be held Sept. 1.
The other vote that will be held that day is in Niagara-West Glanbrook, which was vacated by former Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak when he stepped down last month.
The PCs are expected to be able to hang on to that seat, but first they need to nominate a candidate. Both party president Rick Dykstra and regional councillor Tony Quirk are vying for it, and though the nomination meeting is currently set for Nov. 5, it's expected the party will move that sooner.
The NDP has not yet nominated its Niagara candidate, but their candidate in Ottawa-Vanier is Claude Bisson, the brother of Timmins-James Bay MPP Gilles Bisson.
"The byelections are an important time for New Democrats to connect with people in those ridings, but also around the province around the things we think are important and that we believe the government needs to do better on," NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said.
Carrying the Liberal banner in Ottawa-Vanier is lawyer Nathalie Des Rosiers.
The winners in both of those ridings will have to run again to keep their jobs in less than two years, as the Liberal government announced it's looking to set the next provincial election for June 7, 2018.
The vote is currently set for the fall of 2018, but the Liberal government wants to avoid conflict with the next municipal elections, which are set for October of that year.
Attorney General Yasir Naqvi introduced legislation Wednesday to not only change the election date, but also to allow youth to pre-register to vote and allow votes to be counted electronically.
The bill would allow for the use of electronic vote tabulators -- which were used in this year's Whitby-Oshawa byelection -- instead of having votes counted by hand.
Ontarians who are 16 or 17 years old would be able to pre-register to vote once they turn 18, which the Liberals hope will encourage more young people to vote.
If passed, the legislation could also lead to the creation of new northern ridings, by establishing a Far North Electoral Boundaries Commission to review whether the areas of Kenora-Rainy River and Timmins-James Bay should have another new riding or two.