Stephen Blais keeps Orléans Liberal red
Ottawa city councillor poised to take Marie-France Lalonde's old seat
Stephen Blais will be trading in his seat at Ottawa's council table for one at Queen's Park.
In unofficial results from Thursday night, Blais, who represents the city's Cumberland ward, was the runaway winner in the eastern Ottawa riding of Orléans and will keep the riding Liberal.
With 100 per cent of polls reporting, Blais had just over 55 per cent of the vote, and beat his nearest competitor, Progressive Conservative candidate Natalie Montgomery, by 8,358 votes.
The field also includes the NDP's Manon Parrot and Andrew West for the Greens.
The byelection was triggered when former Liberal MPP Marie-France Lalonde was elected as a federal Liberal in the fall.
Council seat up in the air
A well-known politician in Ottawa's east end and until recently the chair of the city's transportation committee, Blais was first elected to council in Cumberland ward in 2010 and was then handily re-elected in the following two municipal elections.
Blais said from his victory party Thursday night the first issue he wants to tackle is one he fought for as a municipal councillor: getting Highway 174 uploaded to the province.
"It's a major inconvenience for Orléans residents, the City of Ottawa wants it uploaded, the [Progressive] Conservatives ran on it in 2014, it makes a lot of good financial sense and it's super-important," Blais said.
Blais says there will be a transition over the next few weeks as he hands over his municipal files.
Provincial law does permit Ottawa city council to appoint a replacement for Blais, but a municipal byelection is possible. That was the case when former councillor Tobi Nussbaum resigned in 2019 to head up the National Capital Commission.
His Thursday night victory — along with that of fellow Liberal Lucille Collard in Ottawa-Vanier — means the party remains at eight seats, still short of official party status.
Voter turnout in the byelection — held on a day when Ottawa was hit with a major snowstorm — was low. Just 23.53 per cent of the 110,519 registered voters cast ballots in Orléans.