By Graeme McNaughton/The Oshawa Express
Two colleagues from Whitby and regional councils will duke it out to see who will be the next MPP for Whitby-Oshawa.
Councillors Elizabeth Roy and Lorne Coe will both have their names on the ballot for the Liberal and Progressive Conservatives respectively in the upcoming byelection to replace former MPP Christine Elliott, who stepped down from the post in August.
A date has not yet been set for Whitby-Oshawa residents to cast their ballots, although Premier Kathleen Wynne has until late January – six months from the time Elliott stepped down – to call for the byelection.
Second time around
Roy was the first candidate to officially get her name on the ballot, with her name being the only one put forward at a night-time meeting of the Liberal riding association for Whitby-Oshawa at Durham College’s Centre for Food.
This won’t be the first time that Roy, who has sat on Whitby’s council for nearly a decade, has attempted to make the jump into provincial politics. In the 2011 provincial election, Roy ran against incumbent Elliott. The Whitby councillor came in second, finishing with 33.4 per cent of the vote and approximately 7,500 votes shy of Elliott’s count.
However, even with an unsuccessful provincial campaign behind her, Roy says she’s determined to get to Queen’s Park.
“I’m going to knock on as many doors as it’s going to take for me to be elected. I’m very pumped,” Roy told The Oshawa Express shortly after she was named the Liberal candidate. “I’m going to go back to when I was a school board trustee back in 1996, and that was when (Premier Mike) Harris was in government, and I was the chair of the board back then. We were making deputations to the committee at Queen’s Park, and I always knew that I wanted to be on the other side. I wanted to be at Queen’s Park. The time now, the opportunity is there.”
Although he hadn’t officially been named the nominee for the Progressive Conservatives at the time, Roy said she was looking forward to the possibility of squaring off against Coe, her Whitby council colleague.
“You know what, I’m quite excited about it. We sit together and we’ll respect each other and we’re very respectful. We work collegially together.”
“Integral part of the team”
Next up was the Progressive Conservatives, who packed the gym at Brooklin High School to decide who would be running for the party in the upcoming byelection.
Unlike the Liberals, where Roy was the only candidate, card-carrying party members had the choice between three candidates: Coe, a Whitby regional councillor; Charity McGrath, a small business owner; and Shane Kelly, the former executive assistant to Oshawa MP Colin Carrie and a former candidate for regional council.
Also on hand for the election was party leader Patrick Brown, himself recently elected to Queen’s Park in a byelection. Brown told the party faithful how important it was to get behind whichever candidate was chosen.
“In two years and six months – not that I’m counting – we are going need to be ready for the next provincial election, and we’re going to need a strong team,” Brown told a gymnasium filled with party supporters ahead of the announcement Coe had won the nomination. “The person elected today is going to be an integral part of our team.”
Coe, upon winning the nomination, spoke as well on how party members need to work together in the byelection, as well as the provincial election in 2018, to return the party to power for the first time since losing to the Liberals under former premier Dalton McGuinty in 2003.
“I know going forward that we have a significant challenge ahead of us. And I’m going to need the supporters from Charity’s campaign and from Shane’s, for all of us to work together. Work together as a team to defeat the Wynne Liberals,” Coe told party supporters during his victory speech.
“The campaign starts tomorrow.”
Coe also said he would carry on the type of work done by Elliott, who had thrown her support behind the Whitby councillor.
“The legacy of service and dedication to constituents (by Elliott) laid out a road map on how it could be done and should be done,” he said. “And ensure this, that I will continue that legacy that Christine Elliott and the late Jim Flaherty built over so many years in this riding.”