by Elizabeth PaynePublishing

Sep 21, 2021  

Ottawa Centre Liberal winner Yasir Naqvi.
Ottawa Centre Liberal winner Yasir Naqvi. 

Liberal Yasir Naqvi was declared the winner in Ottawa Centre on Monday night, taking the federal riding he represented at the provincial level for 11 years.

Vowing to “hit the ground running,” Naqvi thanked voters for “believing in me again.

“It was an honour of my life to serve you as your member of provincial parliament and it is even a bigger honour to be your member of Parliament, your voice in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill,” he told supporters gathered at an outdoor patio.

Ottawa Centre became a riding to watch after Liberal incumbent Catherine McKenna’s surprise announcement that she would not run again.

The riding has flipped between Liberal and NDP over the past 40 years. McKenna, a high-profile environment minister and later infrastructure minister, won the seat from NDP Paul Dewar in 2015.

Naqvi served as attorney general, among other cabinet positions, with the provincial Liberal government.

“I do feel good about what I stand for and what I have to offer in terms of experience and credibility,” he told this newspaper.

He said people he met at the door wanted to engage on issues that included climate change and building more affordable housing. Naqvi promised the riding would get 1,700 affordable housing units under a Liberal government.

“Ottawa Centre is a unique community in the sense people take politics and public policy quite seriously.”

The NDP’s Angella MacEwen, a senior economist with the Canadian Union of Public Employees, ran an energetic campaign aimed at winning back the seat for the NDP.

“I am really proud of the campaign that we ran in Ottawa Centre,” MacEwen said. “We managed to talk to a large proportion of voters in the riding and get the word out. People seem really excited about our message.”

She said the party platform of more affordable housing, investment in public transit and tax fairness resonated with people on the doorstep.

Her campaign also drew attention to local issues, notably the location of the new Civic hospital. She has called for a public inquiry into the selection of the Sir John Carling site for the new hospital.

Conservative Carol Clemenhagen is the former head of a national health-care organization. She emphasized the Conservatives’ economic recovery plan, including its proposal to fast-track federal infrastructure investments, which is something, she said, that would benefit the new Civic hospital.

The next MP will have a challenging role helping the riding to move ahead after the pandemic, she said.

Angela Keller-Herzog, running for the Green party, focused on climate change action, saying the riding could thrive on the transition to a low-carbon economy.

Other candidates included: Regina Watteel, with the People’s Party of Canada; Alex McDonald, with the Communist Party of Canada; Shelby Bertrand, with the Animal Protection Party of Canada; and Richard Joyal, running as an independent.

The riding has a population of 118,038 with 96,979 on the voters list. With around 10,000 mail-in ballots, there were concerns final results might not be in until Tuesday. But Naqvi held a significant lead over MacEwen throughout the evening.

Source: Ottawa Citizen