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The Ontario Progressive Conservatives unveiled Ottawa Citizen columnist as their new candidate in Ottawa West - Nepean. ((CBC))

The Ontario Progressive Conservatives have named newspaper columnist Randall Denley as their candidate in Ottawa West-Nepean, pitting him against Liberal MPP and former Ottawa Mayor Bob Chiarelli.

Denley, a city columnist with the Ottawa Citizen for nearly two decades, has been a consistent critic of Chiarelli both during his time as mayor and later as a member of the provincial McGuinty government.

Ontario Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak praised Denley as "a trusted voice" in the community.

Denley said after encouraging others to participate in government, he felt he had to do the same.

"Making the decision to enter politics was not easy," said Denley.

"I think the election battle in Ottawa West Nepean is going to be a lot more fun to write about than to participate in, but if we are going to make change in Ontario people need to take action, and that's what I'm doing today," he said from a news conference in Ottawa Tuesday.

Chiarelli won a close byelection in Ottawa West-Nepean over Progressive Conservative candidate Beth Graham in 2010, winning 43.46 per cent of the vote to Graham's 38.99 per cent.

The byelection was called to replace Jim Watson, who vacated the post in advance of his successful campaign for the office of mayor of Ottawa.