Residents in Ottawa West-Nepean could be forgiven for forgetting which election they were voting in when they cast their ballots on June 12, as three men equally known for their roles in municipal politics battle in the Ontario riding.

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Former mayor and current Liberal energy minister Bob Chiarelli again faces off against former Ottawa Citizen city hall columnist Randall Denley, the candidate for the Progressive Conservatives he beat in 2011. Joining them in the race this time is another familiar face from city hall: former Bay Ward councillor Alex Cullen, who is representing the New Democratic Party.

But all three candidates say their campaigns will be focused firmly on the issues today facing the province and the riding.

Chiarelli to campaign on budget

Chiarelli said he and his party will campaign on their recently released budget, which both the NDP and Progressive Conservatives said they would not support.

The budget called for the province to spend $130 billion over a 10-year period, another $11.4 billion on hospital expansion and laid out plans to establish an Ontario Retirement Pension Plan.

After NDP leader Andrea Horwath said she had lost confidence in the minority government of Kathleen Wynne and signalled she would not support the budget, Wynne went to Lt.-Gov. David Onley to dissolve the legislature, triggering the election.

Denley, who lost to Chiarelli by just over 1,000 votes in the 2011 election, said people he's spoken with this weekend are most concerned about their high power bills.

"Of course I'm running against the energy minister, and people understand that and they're not very happy with it," said Denley.

Cullen returns to provincial politics

For Cullen, the campaign is a return to his roots as a provincial politician. Before he represented Bay Ward, he was briefly the Liberal MPP for the old Ottawa West riding after winning a by-election in 1997.

He later switched to the NDP and placed third in 1999 behind second-place Rick Chiarelli and the winner, Progressive Conservative Garry Guzzo.

He said the goal for the campaign is show voters the NDP is a viable and credible alternative to the other two parties.

"People are looking at the NDP with new eyes, we have to build past our base and that means attracting new votes and that's our job," said Cullen.

Alex Hill, a democratic reform advocate, is also running in the riding for the Green Party.

Election season comes twice this year

The writ is expected to drop Wednesday, officially signalling the start of the campaign.

Ottawa voters are also expected to vote this fall in a municipal election.

City by-law and regulatory services officials say they have received a number of questions from residents about the expected rise in the number of campaign signs.

Susan Jones, the city's general manager of emergency and protective services issued a note to councillors and the mayor on Monday providing links to frequently asked questions and restrictions concerning campaign signs.


  • A previous version of this story stated that Cullen switched to the NDP and placed third in 1999 behind second-place Chiarelli and the winner, Progressive Conservative Garry Guzzo. The Chiarelli that ran in 1999 was Rick Chiarelli, not Bob Chiarelli.
    May 06, 2014 2:54 PM ET