Blais running for Liberal nomination in Orléans
3-term Cumberland councillor to seek Liberal nomination for vacant provincial seat
Cumberland Coun. Stephen Blais is throwing his hat into the ring to become the Liberal candidate in the upcoming provincial byelection in the riding of Orléans.
The three-term city councillor made the announcement on Thursday, telling reporters he will only step down if he wins the byelection.
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The provincial seat for Orléans was vacated last month when Marie-France Lalonde stepped down to run for the federal Liberals in the same riding.
In his statement, Blais said a provincial byelection must be called within six months from the date of Lalonde's resignation from Queen's Park, which would be Mar. 23, 2020.
Blais is a well-known politician in the east end who was handily re-elected in the last two municipal elections. He is widely credited for advocating to bring LRT to Orléans in the second phase of the LRT.
Council members endorse Blais
A number of current and former local politicians are endorsing Blais's provincial run, inlcuidng Mayor Jim Watson and Coun. Matthew Luloff, who said Blais has been a political mentor to him.
Perhaps the most surprising show of support comes from Coun. Mathieu Fleury, who hasn't always seen eye-to-eye with Blais over the past nine years.
"Stephen and I may not always agree on issues, but he has demonstrated a willingness and openness to work with officials on all sides," said Fleury in a statement, adding that Blais has been an ally on francophone issues.
"We need this commitment and knowledge of municipal affairs at Queen's Park now more than ever," Fleury said.
If he wins the byelection, Blais will be the latest in a string of councillors to leave council either permanently or temporarily. Late last fall, former Rideau-Rockcliffe councillor Tobi Nussbaum resigned from council to become the CEO of the National Capital Commission — a move Blais criticized at the time.
More recently, Coun. Diane Deans was granted leave for ovarian cancer treatment, while Coun. Rick Chiarelli has been absent since CBC reported allegations of inappropriate comments and behaviour toward former staff members and job applicants.