By Graeme McNaughton/The Oshawa Express
For the fifth time in less than two years, voters in Whitby-Oshawa will be returning to the polls.
Speaking at her first press conference of the year, Premier Kathleen Wynne confirmed that she would be speaking to Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell later this week to request the vote, adding residents would be casting their ballots on Feb. 11.
The province’s three major parties named their candidates at the end of 2015, with both the Liberals and Progressive Conservatives going with Whitby regional councillors in Elizabeth Roy and Lorne Coe respectively. The NDPs are going with Niki Lundquist, a labour lawyer for Unifor.
Since the Whitby-Oshawa riding was formed prior to the 2007 provincial election from parts of the former borders of the Oshawa, Durham and Whitby-Ajax ridings, it has belonged to the Progressive Conservatives under Christine Elliott.
Coe says he is hoping to keep the riding blue.
“What’s clear is that the Ontario PC Party will work with Whitby-Oshawa residents to develop division for an Ontario that works again – an Ontario that provides the world’s best social and health services and one that leads Canada’s economy and doesn’t lag behind,” Coe tells The Oshawa Express. “I have promised to be a strong voice and hold the Wynne Liberals accountable on issues, and these are issues we’re hearing at the door repeatedly. Gridlock, skyrocketing hydro rates and the government’s ongoing cuts to healthcare, particularly to seniors. I’ve been in different parts of Whitby and Oshawa, and I’m hearing that at every door.”
Roy, meanwhile, will be attempting to bring the Whitby-Oshawa riding into the ruling party’s fold.
“I’m feeling pretty excited and ready to go,” Roy tells The Oshawa Express. “We’ll be knocking on doors and trying to get the vote out. This morning we were up at 6 a.m. and talking to GO Train passengers. We’re ready to talk about the issues affecting Whitby-Oshawa.”
Lundquist did not respond to The Oshawa Express’ request for comment before press time.
The Whitby-Oshawa riding has been vacant since late August when Elliott stepped down from the post not long after losing a leadership bid to Patrick Brown. Elliott was recently announced as the province’s first patient ombudsman.
This byelection will mark the fifth time voters in the Whitby-Oshawa area have gone to the polls in a two-year span, with residents called on to vote in the provincial election in June 2014, the municipal election in October 2014, the federal byelection in November 2014 and the federal election in October 2015.