McKenna triumphs in Ottawa Centre

By John Dance

Liberal candidate and incumbent Catherine McKenna handily won the Ottawa Centre riding in the October 21st federal election despite strong opposition and the national decline in Liberal support.

McKenna increased her share of the vote from 43 percent in 2015 to almost 49 percent while the national vote saw her party fall from 39 to 33 percent.

Second place finisher Emilie Taman of the New Democratic Party (NDP) campaigned hard, even making two visits to monthly Old Ottawa East Community Association meetings. But in the end
she garnered only 29 percent of the vote, down from 43 percent won by the late Paul Dewar and the NDP in the previous election.

“I’m extremely proud of the campaign we ran in Ottawa Centre,” Taman told The Mainstreeter. “We kept things respectful and offered tangible solutions to a host of problems that are not being properly addressed (from climate change to affordable housing to gaps in our health care system). While the result on election night was obviously a disappointment, I have no regrets and was grateful for the opportunity to represent Jagmeet Singh and the NDP in this election.”

Conservative Carol Clemenhagen was a distant third with about 13 percent of the vote and Green Party candidate Angela Keller-Herzog was fourth with about 7 percent. The other 7 candidates won a total of about 2.4 percent of the vote.

As Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, McKenna was the only Ottawa MP in the previous cabinet. In the new government, she will serve as Minister of Infrastructure and Communities.

“This has been a tough campaign in Ottawa Centre, and it’s been a really tough campaign for the country,” McKenna noted at her victory party at Lansdowne Park. “One of the lessons to emerge from today’s results is the need for a more positive political culture in our country,” she said, as reported by the Ottawa Citizen.

But just days after her victory, vandals painted vulgar graffiti on the windows of her Westboro campaign office. “I don’t even have words to describe what kind of person would do this,” McKenna
told CBC.

“It’s the same as the trolls on Twitter. It needs to stop.” McKenna’s campaign focused on local issues, particularly environmental ones.

She delivered on a promise from the previous election to support construction of a new Canal footbridge, and in this election she pledged to make Ottawa the greenest capital in the world. Part of this pledge will be an ambitious tree-planting program.

Also, she committed to work with other levels of government to create a pedestrian and cyclist crossing on the old railroad bridge over the Ottawa River, just north of the new Bayview LRT station.

Ottawa Centre had the fifth highest voter turnout of all 338 ridings in Canada with 76 percent of eligible voters casting a ballot. This turnout was down from 2015 levels when the riding had a turnout of 82 percent, the highest in Canada.

In 2019, the national turnout was 66 percent, down two percent from 2015.

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