TORONTO – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is set to appear at a rally with Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne next week to support her candidate in an upcoming provincial byelection that won’t affect the status of the majority Liberal government.
It’s unusual for a prime minister to wade into a provincial byelection, but Wynne took an unusually high-profile role in Trudeau’s campaign in the recent federal election, which apparently paid off. The Liberals, who held only 13 seats in the province when the election was called, were elected in 80 of Ontario’s newly expanded total of 121 seats, including every single seat in the city of Toronto.
The Feb. 11 byelection in Whitby-Oshawa was triggered after Progressive Conservative Christine Elliott resigned the seat, months after losing her party’s leadership race.
The Liberals are eager to snatch the long-held Tory riding away, though the result won’t change the balance of power at Queen’s Park.
Wynne also has some lost time to make up for – she has been on a trade mission to India since late January, missing out on 10 key campaigning days.
Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown said Trudeau’s appearance in Whitby-Oshawa is a “distraction.”
Liberal candidate Elizabeth Roy said she is looking forward to welcoming Trudeau and Wynne to the riding.
“We’ve had tremendous support from Liberal MPs and MPPs throughout this campaign,” she wrote. “To have the prime minister and premier visit in the final days of the campaign is a great validation of the work we’ve done and it shows how the two levels of government can work together to achieve great things for the riding, the province, and the country.”
Polls have suggested the race is between Roy and Tory candidate Lorne Coe – both regional councillors. Though the NDP has hoped that MPP Jennifer French’s win in the neighbouring riding of Oshawa in the 2014 general election is a positive sign for them, candidate Niki Lundquist, a labour lawyer, is polling significantly below the Liberals and PCs.
© 2016 The Canadian Press