WHITBY, Ont. – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was on hand Tuesday to fire up supporters and provide a boost to the provincial Liberals ahead of a hotly contested byelection in the Whitby-Oshawa riding.
Trudeau joined Premier Kathleen Wynne to support candidate Liberal candidate Elizabeth Roy who hopes to steal the longtime Tory stronghold in Thursday’s contest.
“Kathleen is a strong leader and Liz is an outstanding candidate, and together they will get the job done for the people of Whitby-Oshawa,” Trudeau told a raucous crowd.
Trudeau added that the province can look forward to greater inter-governmental co-operation after years of thorny relations between provincial Liberals and the federal Conservatives under Stephen Harper.
“After a decade of indifference and even neglect, Ontario has a dedicated and ambitious partner in Ottawa,” he said.
It’s unusual for a prime minister to wade into a provincial byelection, but Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne took a high-profile role in Trudeau’s campaign in the recent federal election, which apparently paid off.
The result won’t change the balance of power in the provincial legislature, but could provide a boost for Wynne’s embattled government and also mark a coup for rookie Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown.
Polls are indicating a close race between Roy and Progressive Conservative Lorne Coe.
The Liberals, who held only 13 seats in the province when the federal election was called, were elected in 80 of Ontario’s newly expanded total of 121 seats.
Thursday’s byelection in Whitby-Oshawa was triggered after Progressive Conservative Christine Elliott resigned the seat, months after losing her party’s leadership race.
Brown and NDP candidate Niki Lundquist earlier called Trudeau’s appearance in Whitby-Oshawa a “distraction.”
With files from The Canadian Press