OTTAWA - Ontario's provincial Liberals have lost another legislator after one of their members won the nomination to run for an Ottawa seat in next month's federal election.
Marie-France Lalonde was named late Thursday night as the Liberal Party of Canada candidate for Orleans, the same riding she currently holds provincially.
A spokeswoman said Friday that Lalonde is expected to resign from the provincial legislature, meaning the Ontario Liberals will soon number just five members.
“My campaign begins right now,” Lalonde said in a statement. “In the last four months, my team has knocked on thousands of doors.”
Lalonde first won the riding for the party in 2014 succeeding Liberal legislator Phil McNeely.
During her time in government, she served in a number of cabinet roles including francophone affairs minister and correctional services minister.
Lalonde's expected departure comes after Nathalie Des Rosiers left her Ottawa-Vanier seat this summer to take a position at Toronto's Massey College.
Interim Liberal leader John Fraser said he didn't think the party's depleted ranks will hurt the rebuilding process that is underway.
“It creates more work for us but if you take a look at opinion polls our brand is very strong,” he said. “Our work inside the legislature is very important and will be harder but it's ... about defending people's interests.”
Premier Doug Ford will now have to call a pair of provincial byelections and Fraser said he believes the party will have a chance to hold both ridings.
Ottawa-Vanier and Orleans have largely been held by the Liberals over the past two decades.
“Those things are never a given,” he said. “You've got to go out and do the work every election.”
Former premier Kathleen Wynne, who is one of the five remaining members of the Liberal caucus, said she wouldn't read too much into the resignations.
“Nathalie Des Rosier got a great opportunity and she took it. People have a right to take those personal opportunities,” she said. “Marie-France Lalonde is in Ottawa. She wants to be close to home. I think it's understandable she'd take this challenge.”
The Ontario Liberal party went from a majority of seats to just seven - not enough for official party status - in last year's election that saw the Progressive Conservatives under Ford win a majority.
The defeat was the worst in party history and prompted Wynne's resignation, triggering a leadership race.
Former cabinet ministers Steven Del Duca, Mitzie Hunter, and Michael Coteau and former party candidates Kate Graham and Alvin Tedjo are running for the party's top job.
The new leader will be selected at a party convention on March 7, 2020.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 20, 2019.
- With a file from Allison Jones