Yasir Naqvi returns to Ottawa Centre as new Liberal MP; NDP place a distant second

John Dance

Liberal candidate Yasir Naqvi soundly won the Ottawa Centre riding in the September 20 federal election, defeating the NDP’s Angella MacEwen by more than 8,000 votes.

Conservative candidate Carol Clemenhagen was third, followed by the Green Party’s Angela Keller-Herzog.

At his victory celebration, Naqvi promised to continue in the tradition of Ed Broadbent, Paul Dewar and Catherine McKenna, the previous Ottawa Centre MPs.

Naqvi served Ottawa Centre as its provincial MPP for eight years until he was defeated by the NDP’s Joel Harden in the 2018 election.

At his victory party, Liberal Yasir Naqvi graciously spoke of continuing in the footsteps of previous Ottawa Centre MPs Ed Broadbent, Paul Dewar and Catherine McKenna. Photo by John Dance

At his victory party, Liberal Yasir Naqvi graciously spoke of continuing in the footsteps of previous Ottawa Centre MPs Ed Broadbent, Paul Dewar and Catherine McKenna. Photo by John Dance

The Ottawa Centre race was characterized by intense campaigning but also, as evidenced by the candidates’ virtual debate, a degree of progressive consensus on a number of issues. Indeed, at times during the debate hosted by local community associations, it appeared that the candidates of the major parties had many of the same goals, differing only on how they’d achieve them and what their specific targets would be.

“Inclusion is the only way of doing things,” Naqvi remarked at his victory party held at the patio of Old Ottawa South’s Senate Tavern.

Naqvi was in the provincial Cabinet, serving in several positions including Attorney General, but at this point, it is not clear whether he will become part of the new Liberal government’s Cabinet. Predecessor Catherine McKenna was initially Minister of the Environment and subsequently Minister of Infrastructure and Communities.

In comparison to what happened nationally, the Ottawa Centre candidates’ performances varied significantly. Naqvi’s 45 percent share was much higher than the national Liberal share of 32 percent; MacEwen’s 33 percent share was also much higher than the national NDP share of 18 percent; Clemenhagen at 16 percent was about half of the Tories’ national share of 34 percent, and Keller-Herzog’s 3 percent was above the national Green rate of 2 percent.

Nationally, the right-wing People’s Party received 5 percent while Regina Watteel, the Ottawa Centre candidate, received 2 percent.

Compared to the 2019 election, the Liberal vote in Ottawa Centre was down by 5 percent, the NDP was up by 3; the Conservatives increased by 4, the Greens were down by 4, the People’s Party was up by 2.

Voter participation continued to fall in Ottawa Centre. Preliminary figures show a participation rate of 70 percent, down 6 percent from 2019 and 12 percent from 2021. The pandemic resulted in greater voting at advance polls, but it also may have contributed to lower overall participation.

The virtual debate of Ottawa Centre candidates featured shared perspectives on many issues, respect of opponents and collaboration. Clockwise from top left: Angela Keller-Herzog (Green); Angella MacEwen (NDP); Carol Clemenhagen (Conservative), and Yasir Naqvi (Liberal);

The virtual debate of Ottawa Centre candidates featured shared perspectives on many issues, respect of opponents and collaboration. Clockwise from top left: Angela Keller-Herzog (Green); Angella MacEwen (NDP); Carol Clemenhagen (Conservative), and Yasir Naqvi (Liberal);

One local issue that arose during the campaign was Naqvi’s proposal to extend the project to close Colonel By Drive to vehicle traffic for a full-year pilot. This would “get [people] out of their cars to walk, bike and roll to work and school, [and] it would also give our community the necessary data and comprehensive details to measure the quantitative success of this important project,” Naqvi wrote to the National Capital Commission.

Reaction to the proposal has been mixed. Many are concerned about the impact of such a measure on Main Street and other routes while others welcome the idea of the parkway being safer and more accommodating for pedestrians and cyclists.

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