Two by-elections on the horizon

By Christina Leadlay

Ottawa-Vanier is in an unprecedented situation, with both its federal and provincial seats now vacant since the summer.

Liberal MPP Madeleine Meilleur’s surprise resignation this past June triggered a provincial by-election approximately 18 months sooner than expected. Then, on August 16, Liberal MP Mauril Bélanger died following a heartbreakingly swift battle with ALS, leaving our riding without a representative at the federal level as well.

According to an Elections Canada press release from August 24, the earliest a federal by-election could take place in Ottawa-Vanier is October 10, which is highly unlikely since, as of September 25, no date had been set.

“The election must be held on a Monday,” reads the release. “Since the date of the election must be at least 36 days after the issue of the writ, the earliest that the by-election in Ottawa–Vanier can be held is on October 10, 2016.” The government has until February 19, 2017 to announce when the vote will take place.

In the interim, Ottawa- Orleans Liberal MP Andrew Leslie issued a letter to Ottawa-Vanier constituents, offering his support. “Until such time as a new M.P. is elected in a forthcoming by-election (at a date to be determined), as Chief Government Whip, I will ensure that the Ottawa-Vanier riding office continues to serve its constituents,” reads Leslie’s letter, which can be found in this newspaper on page 3.

As of press time, none of the federal party associations have officially chosen their candidates for the forthcoming by-election. But that hasn’t stopped speculation as to who might put their name forth for consideration.

Emilie Taman, who ran for the NDP in last fall’s federal election, is reported to be seriously contemplating another bid for Ottawa-Vanier. A lawyer by training, Taman told the CBC on September 1 that another run would be “taking care of unfinished business.”

“In the context of the very large number of promises this government has made, it’s particularly important that the government is held to do what it said it would do, and that’s important to the people of Ottawa-Vanier,” Taman says.

Catherine Fortin LeFaivre, who ran unsuccessfully for Ottawa City Council in 2014, is reported to be considering a run for the Liberal nomination. She could potentially be up against her former rival: current City Councillor Mathieu Fleury has closed the door to running provin- cially for the Liberals, but not to the possibility of a federal bid. Fleury has reportedly said he’d like to focus on his family life in Ottawa in the near future.

Other names being floated for the Liberal nomination run include Lowertown community activist Nicolas Moyer; strategic communications consultant Mona Fortier; former MP and ex-Liberal staffer Francis LeBlanc; as well as Mauril’s widow, Catherine Bélanger, according to the September 26 issue of the Hill Times.

The federal Conservative riding association has yet to hold its nomination for by-election candidates, as of late September.

At the provincial level, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne has until December 2016 to call a by-election for Ottawa-Vanier.

Some local hopefuls have spent their summer organizing for the upcoming by-election. As of press time, we can tell you about some of the prospective candidates.

The only confirmed candidate is the New Democratic Party’s Claude Bisson, who was officially chosen in August. Neither the Ontario Liberals and the opposition Progressive Conservatives have yet to call for nominations to select their respective candidates.

Currently a Dean of Law at the University of Ottawa, Nathalie Des Rosiers has put her name forward for the Ontario Liberals. Lucille Collard, a School Trustee and Federal Court of Appeal Staff Lawyer, is also reported to be considering a run for the Liberal nomination.

On Sept. 24, former Ontario Ombudsman André Marin announced his intention to run for the PC nomination in Ottawa-Vanier. According to the Ottawa Citizen, Marin lives in south Nepean, but he says his years teaching at the University of Ottawa (located in Ottawa-Vanier) give him a strong connection. This announcement changed the plans of UOttawa education professor Cameron Montgomery, who on Sept. 13 had declared his intention to seek the PC nomination, but has now decided to switch to challenging Liberal cabinet minister Marie-France Lalonde in Orléans in the next provincial general election instead, the Ottawa Citizen reports on Sept. 25.

Once dates for both the federal and provincial by-elections are announced, New Edinburgh News will bring readers full coverage of the candidates and voting details in future issues.