Mona Fortier holds Ottawa–Vanier for Liberals in byelection

Residents in Ottawa–Vanier have elected a woman to represent them for the first time in the federal riding's history, as Liberal Mona Fortier was the clear winner in Monday's byelection.

Ottawa–Vanier held by Mauril Bélanger until his death in August

Liberal candidate Mona Fortier thanks the crowd after Monday night's byelection in Ottawa–Vanier. Fortier won more than 50 per cent of the vote. (Simon Gardner/CBC)

Residents in Ottawa–Vanier have elected a woman to represent them for the first time in the federal riding's history, as Liberal Mona Fortier was the clear winner in Monday's byelection.

​With all 255 polling stations reporting as of 1:05 a.m. Tuesday, Fortier had 15,190 votes, or 51.2 per cent of the popular vote.

Her next closest competitor was NDP candidate Emilie Taman, with 8,523 votes, or 28.7 per cent of the vote. Conservative Party candidate Adrian Papara was third with 4,578 votes, or 15.4 per cent.

Elections Canada estimated voter turnout at 34.1 per cent of registered voters.

The results are not yet official.

Mona Fortier says affordable housing, pension worries and bringing more jobs to Ottawa–Vanier are among the top concerns of residents. (CBC)

'We can't take it for granted'

Fortier told CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning Tuesday the Liberals can't take their domination of the riding for granted.

Asked about the slightly narrower margin of victory compared to the general election, Fortier said it's difficult to compare.

"Comparing to a general election is very hard. ... I think that I'm very proud of getting over 50 per cent of the vote. I think that people did come out, but for a byelection it's kind of normal to see that not as many go out to vote," she said.

On the campaign, Fortier said pensions, affordable housing and jobs were among her constituents' top concerns. Ongoing Phoenix pay system problems for federal public servants didn't come up very often while knocking on doors, she said.

"No, actually, not that much. But I did get some calls and I think that we're really working hard to get this issue resolved. I can't believe how hard it must be for the public servants that are touched by Phoenix, that they have families, and we have to really get this fixed," Fortier said.

Mona Fortier and Catherine Bélanger, Mauril Bélanger's widow, hug after Fortier won the Ottawa–Vanier byelection. (Radio-Canada)

Favours official bilingualism for Ottawa

She also said she's in favour of Ottawa becoming officially bilingual, something Mayor Jim Watson isn't supporting.

"Our city has much more added value with the Francophonie.... Ottawa being officially bilingual can bring much more to our city," she said.

"I'm hoping I'll encourage [Watson] and work with him and municipal councillors.... We have to push the fact that our diversity is really our strength and that's what I'll be working very hard to demonstrate."

Fortier succeeds Mauril Bélanger

The Ottawa–Vanier seat has been empty since the death in August of longtime MP Mauril Bélanger, who had represented the riding since 1995.

Fortier is a businesswoman and Liberal party organizer who worked with Bélanger on eight campaigns.

"Our dear friend Mauril Bélanger was not only a steward of Ottawa–Vanier but also a fighter for what is right," Fortier told the crowd after winning the race Monday night. "It pains me to be standing here instead of him."

Mona Fortier talks about Mauril Belanger

5 years ago
Liberal candidate Mona Fortier will be taking the seat of longtime Ottawa-Vanier representative Mauril Belanger. She spoke about it with mixed emotions. 0:23
Belanger's widow Catherine, however, said Monday night that her husband would be pleased Fortier was taking his place.

"This is a diverse riding and I have real hopes she will be looking after the people as much as my husband did," said Catherine Bélanger.

Fortier was expected to win, as Liberals have held the seat since it was created in 1935.

Strong showing for Taman

But Taman had a strong showing for the NDP, improving on her 2015 election contest against Bélanger.

New Democratic Party candidate Emilie Taman had close to 30 per cent of the vote, a strong showing for her party in the riding. (Simon Gardner/CBC)
In that vote Bélanger won with 57 per cent of the vote, with Taman and then-Conservative candidate David Piccini each garnering about 19 per cent of the vote.

Taman said she was pleased with the result and that she was proud of her campaign.

"I think its one of the best showings we've ever had in the riding and I think we sent a clear message to the government, win or lose, that there is dissatisfaction with the government," said Taman.

Fortier congratulated Taman on her campaign, and said as two women running in a riding that had never elected one before, they were running alongside each other, not against each other.

"When you elect more women to Parliament, we push each other to be better, not divisive," said Fortier.

Ottawa–Vanier is one of five federal ridings that held byelections Monday.

It's is a large and diverse riding that includes the neighbourhoods of the ByWard Market, Sandy Hill, New Edinburgh, Rockcliffe Park, Vanier, Overbrook and Gloucester.

It has a population of 111,508, according to the 2016 census.

Supporters of Liberal candidate Mona Fortier gather at the Knights of Columbus hall in Vanier as results from the byelection come in. (Simon Gardner/CBC)