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Stephen Blais resigns from Ottawa city council following Ontario byelection victory

Cumberland Coun. Stephen Blais speaks to reporters at Ottawa City Hall on Nov. 13, 2019.
Cumberland Coun. Stephen Blais speaks to reporters at Ottawa City Hall on Nov. 13, 2019. Beatrice Britneff / Global News

Stephen Blais has resigned from Ottawa city council, an expected move after the Cumberland Ward councillor won the provincial byelection in Orléans for the Ontario Liberals last week.

The east-end councillor submitted his resignation on Thursday and it is effective immediately, the city clerk confirmed in an email to members of council on Thursday afternoon.

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Under provincial law, city council has to formally declare the Cumberland seat vacant at its next meeting, which is scheduled for March 25, 2020.

In anticipation of Blais’ departure, City Clerk Rick O’Connor told council members the day after the Orléans byelection that city staff support holding a municipal byelection on June 8 to replace the longtime councillor.

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Council’s other option is to appoint a replacement, O’Connor said in a Feb. 28 memo to council. But O’Connor noted that staff favour letting Cumberland voters choose their next representative at Ottawa City Hall, given the vacancy comes less than two years into council’s four-year term.

Staff will officially make the recommendation to hold a byelection in Cumberland Ward in a report to council on March 25, according to O’Connor.

If council agrees with that recommendation, city staff will recommend councillors pass a bylaw kickstarting the byelection process that same day, which would implement the following timeline:

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  • March 25: Nomination period begins
  • April 24: Nomination period ends at 2 p.m.
  • May 29: Advance voting day
  • June 8: Voting day
  • June 9: Official results declared.

A byelection in Cumberland Ward is expected to cost the city about $375,000.

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Blais — who was first elected to Ottawa city council in 2020 — is the second councillor to resign this term, after former Rideau-Rockcliffe councillor Tobi Nussbaum resigned in January 2019 to become the next CEO of the National Capital Commission.

A byelection was held to fill the council vacancy in that case as well. Rideau-Rockcliffe voters elected Rawlson King as their new councillor.