By Charlie Senack
Ottawa Centre MPP Joel Harden has been nominated as the New Democrats’ candidate in the riding for the second time.
Harden was first elected as candidate back in 2017, winning on the third ballot by only eight votes. Angella MacEwan, Erica Braunovan and Shawn Barber also had their names on the ballot.
The Vankleek Hill (now Ottawa Centre) resident went on to win the June 2018 provincial election with 46.1 per cent of the vote, beating Liberal incumbent Yasir Naqvi who received 32.8 per cent. Conservative party candidate Colleen McCleery received 16 per cent of the vote.
Harden said he was proud to be selected as the NDP candidate in Ottawa Centre for the second time and that his success is a community effort.
“I firmly believe that people want to demand more from politics,” he said. “What’s on us as the NDP is to show people not only can we become the government of Ontario again, you don’t have to settle for an around the edges approach, which is what my friends in the Liberal and Conservative parties do.”
Since being elected to office, he’s held various public consultations and meetings on issues he said matter to his constituents. Harden also now serves as the official Opposition critic for accessibility and persons with disabilities, a role he takes seriously.
“Joel’s compassion, determination and community-mindedness make him an incredible advocate for his community,” said Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath in a press release.
“He has shown that Ottawa families don’t have to keep settling for less — they can elect more New Democrat MPPs like Joel,” she added. “We can put crumbling schools, overcrowded hospitals and understaffed seniors’ homes in our past by investing in health care, home care, long-term care and education, and that’s what our NDP government will do in 2022.”
Harden said one of the best parts of the job is helping residents who call his office feeling helpless after being referred to various government departments.
“On a case work front, we have helped hundreds of people on specific needs,” he said. “We have been a part of some fantastic local campaigns — the latest is a parliamentary measure to clarify whether retirement homes, long-term care homes and group homes have the right to trespass family caregivers who complain about the conditions of their loved ones.”
Seeing the Ford government reverse their controversial autism program was also an accomplishment for Harden. He said the NDP pushed back and showed the government not to underestimate parents.
Harden also noted that during his three years in office, there have been two student-led walkouts in schools — once during the climate crisis and again when the Ford government made changes to the way sex-ed is taught, reverting to a 20-year-old curriculum.
“I will never forget standing outside of Nepean High School and people from both the public and Catholic high schools were walking up Broadview Street, and you could see them both coming together refusing to accept this,” said Harden. “That gives me so much hope that the energy is there.”
The next provincial election is a little over a year away, and Harden said it will be a crucial one.