Province calls byelection for vacant seat in Hamilton Centre

The Ontario government issued a writ Feb. 15, 2023 revealing a Hamilton Centre byelection for March 16, 2023. Early candidates for the post include the NDP's Sara Jama, the Liberal's Deirdre Pike, the PC's Pete Wiesner and the Green Party's Lucia Iannantuono.

Ontario has officially called a byelection for Hamilton Centre.

Under the Election Act, Wednesday was the last day for the Ford government to make the move.

Voting day will be March 16.

Candidates will be vying for a seat vacated by Andrea Horwath when she left in a bid to become mayor of Hamilton.

Four candidates came forward prior to Wednesday’s election announcement and include a police officer, a justice advocate, community researcher and environmental supporter.

Here’s a quick look at each of the early contenders:

Lucia Iannantuono - The Green Party of Ontario

Green party candidate Lucia Iannantuano will be running on an agenda renewing a call to protect the city’s surrounding farmlands and green spaces from Doug Ford’s Bill 23: The More Homes Built Faster Act.

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At the forefront of the Green’s initiative in Hamilton is building middle and affordable housing on vacant plots and not farm or wetlands.

Reviving a 50 per cent provincial funding initiative for city housing and for shelter costs, cut in the late nineties after the era of premier Mike Harris, has been on the Green’s list in an effort to provide relief for cost being downloaded to residents via property taxes.

Iannantuano characterizes Bill 23 as an “absolute disaster” which she says encourages the “wrong type” of development.

It wants high cost, single family homes built far away from Hamilton’s centre out in the periphery of Hamilton,” she told Global News.

“When we know that we need is retrofits and building on vacant lots to make affordable units inside the city center.”

Creating public greenspace as well as community gardens across Hamilton with upgrades for climate adaptation are also part of the Green’s platform.

Stopping new fossil fuel infrastructure and enforcing limits on air and water pollution in Hamilton is also one of Iannantuano’ priorities

Sarah Jama - New Democratic Party (NDP)

Hamilton activist Sarah Jama became NDP’s candidate in late October.

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She was the only approved candidate for the post after revealing her intention to run in late July.

Jama is the co-founder of the the Disability Justice Network of Ontario and was also at the forefront of the Hamilton Transit Riders’ Union.

Her political experience includes time with the NDP’s federal council and executive as well as participating in campaigns for Ward 3 councillor Nrinder Nann and current Hamilton Centre MP Matthew Green.

Addressing the current hospital crisis and mitigating the high cost of living are platforms Jama is looking to tackle, if elected.

“Hamilton has become one of the top three most expensive places to live in Canada, which is completely ridiculous,” Jama told Global News.

“I want to take on the fight for rent control. I want to make sure that everyday people can afford to live and stay here and grow their families here.”

Deirdre Pike - Liberal Party of Ontario

Liberal candidate Dierdre Pike’s agenda also includes a look for an alternative to Bill 23 via a campaign on protecting the Greenbelt, the climate and providing income security for people on social assistance.

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A local justice advocate, researcher, LGBTQ facilitator and 30-year resident, Pike told Global News the Ford plan to utilize parts of Ontario’s greenbelt was a powerful motivator to enter the Hamilton Centre campaign.

“So that was one pivotal issue … that caused me to say I need to use my voice in the most powerful and effective and positive way,” she said.

Truth and reconciliation, human trafficking awareness, food insecurity, and rent controls are also high on Pike’s priorities.

“One is that we need to do is reinstate rent controls that would have a huge impact on Hamiltonians who are in the rental market they are, frankly, priced right out of,” said Pike.

Pete Wiesner -Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario (PC)

Once an honourary Hamilton Police chief, Pete Wiesner became the the PC party’s choice to run in Hamilton Centre in early February.

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The 22-year veteran of the city’s police service spent time as a supervising sergeant for a crisis response branch and had a hand in the city’s rapid intervention and support team (RIST) – a service model used in dealing with homeless, addiction and mental health crisis. I

Wiesner was instrumental in securing a multi-million dollar grant to pay the salaries of a number of social service workers in the program.

“Whether it’s securing investments in clean steel at Dofasco or building light rail transit and new roads and highways, there’s so much momentum in Hamilton and Ontario right now,” Wiesner said following his nomination.

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