Tue. Feb 27th, 2024

Voters are called to go to the polls on November 30.

À Kitchener-Centre, a partial with multiple challenges

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A by-election must be organized in Kitchener Center after the departure of an NDP MP.

  • Camille Gris Roy (View profile)Camille Gris Roy

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The gray weather of November does not deter the candidates in the provincial riding of Kitchener-Centre, who continue to go from door to door a few days before the election. Some 18 names are on the ballot for this by-election. A record, according to Elections Ontario.

Debbie Chapman, City of Kitchener city councilor for five years, is trying her luck for the New Democratic Party (NDP) in this race. I grew up here, I've lived here for 50 years, she confides.

The New Democrats are keen to keep this seat which was occupied by MP Laura Mae Lindo, who left politics (New window) this year to join the University of Waterloo.

The Green Party also has high hopes for this election. Its candidate, Aislinn Clancy, sits on the city council alongside her NDP rival.

At the federal level, the Kitchener-Centre riding has been held since 2021 by a Green MP, Mike Morice. Aislinn Clancy, who was then involved in his campaign, has the impression that the movement is increasingly visible in this region.

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Green candidate, Aislinn Clancy.

Our party is organized . We start our campaigns very early. So we managed to knock on every door in the constituency twice. We have 2000 signs and more than 400 volunteers, she reports.

The leader and only elected official of the party at Queen's Park, Mike Schreiner, often came to support him on the ground.

After two victories this summer in by-elections, the Liberal Party hopes to continue its momentum and win a tenth seat here.

It's the second chance vote for Kelly Steiss, who ran for the Liberals in the 2022 provincial election.

< p class="StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-48221190-4 hnvfyV">I have worked for the City of Kitchener for over 20 years and want to bring my depth and breadth of experience to this position. I am already used to listening to the community to understand the issues and working collaboratively, she emphasizes.

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Kelly Steiss is a candidate for the Liberal Party.

The Progressive Conservative candidate, Rob Elliot, did not respond to our requests for an interview. I am running to build a strong economy and lower costs for Kitchener families and businesses, he wrote in a statement.

Mr. Elliott lives in Keswick, an hour north of Toronto, the party confirmed to CBC.

There is a lot at stake for the parties opposition in this partial, summarizes Simon Kiss, professor of political science at Wilfrid-Laurier University.

The Greens certainly have an opening, he assesses. Their leader has a headquarters in Guelph, a neighboring region. They won the federal riding, so it's a bit remarkable for a small party. A possibility of winning a riding like that doesn't happen often.

It is the New Democrats who undoubtedly have the most to lose here. The NDP is trying to present itself as the alternative to the Conservative government, so they must keep this riding, notes Simon Kiss.

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Debbie Chapman is the NDP candidate in Kitchener Centre.

The NDP went through a period of turbulence this fall with the expulsion of MP Sarah Jama, in the wake of a controversy linked to the conflict in the Middle East.

The NDP riding association in Kitchener Center then published a letter denouncing this exclusion and demanding the resignation of leader Marit Stiles.

New Democrat Debbie Chapman says she was disappointed by this outing. I am not a member of the association’s executive. I'm not sure why this happened.

The candidate maintains that she was never shown a copy of the letter before her publication. I found that this was not correct, even though I am a candidate and we are in the middle of a by-election.

< p class="Text-sc-2357a233-1 imohSo">The people [involved] have resigned and I hope we can rebuild the executive

A quote from Debbie Chapman, Ontario NDP candidate in Kitchener Centre

I believe that Marit Stiles and her team, in the face of a majority government, have done a very good job of holding Doug Ford accountable – especially on the Greenbelt, continues -she.

In any case, any appearance of division or frustration within the party can tarnish its image, underlines Simon Kiss, and by default the liberals, who are also fighting to show that they are the alternative to the government , will benefit from it.

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Simon Kiss is a professor of political science at Wilfrid Laurier University.

The professor also thinks that the Progressive Conservatives missed an opportunity by choosing a candidate who does not live in the riding.

The Conservative Party has a base election dominated by rural and suburban voters, rather than those from cities, recognizes Mr. Kiss. They may have thought they would have difficulty winning. However, there would be the possibility that the party would win with a divided vote from the left.

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It is the issues of housing and the cost of living that primarily concern Kitchener Center voters, according to the candidates interviewed.

People see homelessness on our streets. They see the real estate stock being swallowed up by speculators and investors, and rents increasing. They want real solutions, says Aislinn Clancy, of the Green Party.

Kelly Steiss adds to this the state of the health system. People are worried about the privatization of healthcare. It’s important to invest in our public system, she says.

The Kitchener-Waterloo region is growing. We have a lot of students, newcomers, businesses, start-ups setting up and we must have health infrastructure to meet the needs.

The NDP candidate is also campaigning for more frequent and reliable GO train service between Kitchener and Toronto, a corridor she says is very busy.

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