Kathleen Wynne visits Dalton McGuinty's old riding of Ottawa South
Liberals kept seat in an August 2013 byelection
Liberal leader Kathleen Wynne pays a visit to Dalton McGuinty’s former riding of Ottawa south Wednesday night, less than a year after the former premier’s choices were a central part of a contentious byelection.
Liberal John Fraser, who worked in McGuinty’s office for many years before stepping aside early last year, won the Aug. 1 byelection by 1,294 votes over Matt Young of the Progressive Conservatives.
Bronwyn Funiciello of the NDP came in third with 5,030 votes.
- Full Ontario Votes 2014 coverage from CBC
- Liberal John Fraser retains McGuinty's Ottawa seat
- Ottawa South riding profile
One of the themes of that byelection was Fraser’s involvement in some of McGuinty’s more unpopular decisions, including cancelling two gas plants in the Greater Toronto Area at a cost of up to $1.1 billion dollars, according to the province’s auditor general.
Young said on Tuesday that while he’s pushing his party’s platform, the "Million Jobs Plan", he wants to make sure those scandals aren’t forgotten.
"As much as we want to talk about what we want to do with Ontario, we need to remind (voters) the Liberals have poorly managed tax dollars,” he said.
“They spent a billion dollars on gas plants that weren't built… they spent $700 million on e-health which we got nothing out of and they spend hundreds of millions on Ornge ambulances."
“Ontarians need to have a premier they feel they can trust, the Liberals have really lost touch,” said NDP candidate Bronwyn Funiciello.
“It’s hard to have confidence in the budget, the Liberals over the past couple of budgets included pieces and made a lot of promises they just haven’t met.”
Fraser said Tuesday he’s focusing on being there for his constituents when they need him, not trying to answer for the past.
“My job for the last 10 months has been to advocate for things that are important for people,” he said.
"You have to cut through all that noise and focus on those things that are important to families... you can't be distracted by the negativity of politics sometimes."
Fraser said he’s proud of two of his motions that died when the election was called last week: requiring MPPs to disclose their expenses and trying to get more eye testing for young children.
Less than a year after last vote
The fact the election campaign started just 279 days after byelection voting day wasn’t lost on the candidates.
“It’s a lot of hard work and you have to ask a lot of people to help you… the hardest thing is to ask them to do it again in a year,” Fraser said.
“I enjoy campaigning, I enjoy being out there talking to people… it’s not a burden in any sense.”
"In July the byelection was called right after the long weekend and the election itself was held on the day before a long weekend... it's a very different situation now," Funiciello said of why this campaign would be different for her.
“It was certainly hard for people, post-election, who had been away and weren’t even aware there had been a byelection.”
“In 2011 we lost by more than 7,000 votes, last time it was about 1,200,” Young said.
“It hurt me a lot when we lost, it hurt all the volunteers when we lost but I think we learned how to win and we’re going to do a lot better this time.”
Wynne is scheduled to help open Fraser’s office Wednesday night at 6 p.m.
Earlier in the day she said the Liberals have a “fantastic history” in the riding, which has elected a member of that party since Dalton McGuinty Sr. won in 1987.
"Dalton McGuinty served that riding so well. John Fraser is a terrific MPP and I'm looking forward to meeting with his team later on," she said.
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