By Charlie Senack
The writ has been dropped and a federal election has been called: Canadians head to the polls on Sept. 20.
In Ottawa Centre, Liberal incumbent Catherine McKenna announced she would not seek re-election after serving six years as MP.
During the 2019 federal election, McKenna won her second term, with more than 48 per cent of the vote, according to Elections Canada. The NDP received 29 per cent of the vote with Emilie Taman as their candidate; the Conservatives received 12 per cent of the vote with Carol Clemenhagen as their candidate; and the Green Party received seven per cent of the vote with Angela Keller-Herzog as their candidate.
Here is a look at some of the candidates running in Ottawa Centre this election.
Yasir Naqvi – Liberal Party
Former Ottawa-Centre Member of Provincial Parliament Yasir Naqvi has decided to seek public office again, this time as the federal Liberal Party candidate.
Naqvi, who represented the community at Queen’s Park for 11 years (2007-2018), previously served as Ontario’s attorney general. He says he got the itch to enter the race after realizing Canada needs proper representation to help rebuild following the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This is a very pivotal time for Canada, and I feel very strongly that I have much to contribute in the conversations that are going to take place, the actions that are going to be taken to rebuild our country post-pandemic,” said Naqvi. “We in Ottawa Centre have incredible talent—amazing people who have really good ideas. Given my background, given my track record of delivering for our community, I feel very strongly that this is a very important personal moment for me to be a representative again, as a member of parliament, and work with our community to ensure that our voices; our concerns; our priorities are front and centre.”
If elected, Naqvi says he would work to bring reconciliation to Indigenous communities and also advocate to stop racial injustice for marginalized communities.
“We have seen the adverse reaction of the pandemic on marginalized communities when it comes to Indigenous communities, the Black community, people of colour, and, given as my experience as the attorney general in Ontario, I want to work on ensuring that we are creating an equal playing field and an inclusive Canada by addressing the racial injustice that exists in our country,” he said.
Naqvi also says he wants to combat climate change and create more affordable housing options. On Aug. 26, the Liberal candidate announced that if he is elected, Ottawa Centre will receive federal funding for 1,700 new affordable housing units by 2025.
Angella MacEwen – New Democratic Party
Labour economist Angella MacEwen was nominated as the NDP candidate in Ottawa Centre.
MacEwen works for the Canadian Union of Public Employees and previously held a position at the Canadian Labour Congress. She spent the winter co-writing a book on economics called Share the Wealth. After it was published, the Ottawa Centre resident decided she wanted to create a world like the one she wrote.
“There are a lot of issues that people were hopeful Trudeau would move on, but I’ve seen him time and again take the wrong approach in terms of their understanding of economics and how our economics system works,” said MacEwen. “The Liberals have fallen short on a number of areas that I’m really worried about: economic inequality, climate action, proportional representation or any time of demographic electoral reform, which I think is really important in terms of getting any of the other things changed.”
MacEwen also says she is passionate about ending homelessness — an issue she hears a lot about while knocking on doors — and says there needs to be more affordable housing options in Ottawa Centre. That includes not handing money over to developers in hopes they will come through on their promises to build a few affordable housing units.
“Buying your first house in Ottawa is very expensive now. Renting is very, very expensive, and wait lists for subsidized housing are pretty long,” the NDP candidate said. “We need to look at policies that are addressing that and not making the problem worse. We are playing with the wrong incentives in terms of supply and demand.”
If she’s elected, MacEwen would also like to make public transit more affordable for those on a lower income. She says even if the Trudeau Liberals win another majority, the NDP candidate hopes their party will become strong in opposition so they can create change, especially when it comes to ending poverty.
Carol Clemenhagen – Conservative Party
Civic Hospital-area resident Carol Clemenhagen is on the ballot as the Conservative Party candidate in Ottawa Centre.
Clemenhagen spent a greater portion of her working life in healthcare — primarily advocating for increased federal health transfers. She decided to run for public office again to ensure Canada is in a strong place as it fights to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As we are coming out of the pandemic, the issues that, really, all of us are feeling is the need for economic recovery and economic growth, in order for us to have the ability going forward to invest in priorities that are really important here in Ottawa Centre, but also nationally,” said Clemenhagen. “I would say those priorities are investing in healthcare and climate action, which are both very complex public priorities that will need ongoing and deep investment federally, provincially, and municipally.”
Clemenhagen says while she believes the federal government initially did a good job on handling the pandemic, they should have been better prepared to handle a global health crisis.
“In fact, the assumption was that after SARS in 2004, the Public Health Agency of Canada was created specifically to ensure that we were better prepared for infectious disease threats,” she said. “So, it was very surprising to learn that the Liberal government, in fact, diminished the early warning system that existed for global health threats, and that there was a real sense of disarray with how they were going to approach securing vaccines for the population. There were gaps that were inventoried that I think people had assumed would not be there.”
Clemenhagen said she wants to see a formalized review of how the government responded to the pandemic and how it was managed. She says we need those learnings to be prepared for the next global health threat that will eventually come.
Angela Keller-Herzog – Green Party
Economist and activist Angela Keller-Herzog has put her name forward once again as the Green Party candidate in Ottawa Centre.
Keller-Herzog currently is the executive director of Community Associations for Environmental Sustainability, and principal at Horizon Green consulting.
Kitchissippi Times was unable to reach the Green Party candidate for an interview prior to publication; however, according to her website, Keller-Herzog wants to bring fairness and accountability to Parliament Hill. She is also passionate about climate action and biodiversity.
“We must accept that our global ecology is in a dire state. It is our job to do something about it. Canada must step up, do the climate math, and do our fair share,” wrote Keller-Herzog. “We need to go into a non-partisan collaborative problem-solving mode, so future generations have a livable climate and abundant natural habitats.”
Keller-Herzog says the COVID-19 pandemic has also taught us all that we can do better when it comes to basic human rights.
Elections Canada also has the following confirmed candidates listed for Ottawa Centre: Regina Watteel (People’s Party of Canada), Alex McDonald (Communist Party of Canada) and Shelby Bertrand (Animal Protection Party of Canada).
To learn more, visit elections.ca.