Ottawa—Vanier byelection: History will be made no matter who wins

Voters in Ottawa—Vanier will elect their first female MP, their first non-Liberal MP, or both on April 3. Here's a look at who's running and what they have to say as the byelection campaign gets underway.

Voters have never elected a woman or non-Liberal candidate

April 3 is the day voters in Ottawa-Vanier will choose their new representative on Parliament Hill. (Chloé Fedio/CBC)

The race is on to represent Ottawa—Vanier in the House of Commons.

A federal byelection is happening April 3 because of the death of longtime Liberal MP Mauril Bélanger last August from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease.

Voters have elected a Liberal man in every election since the riding was created in the mid-1930s. But with a female Liberal candidate in the running, that precedent is guaranteed to change, no matter who wins.

Here's a look at who's been nominated as of Feb. 25:

Nira Dookeran, Green Party

Nira Dookeran is running in her second federal campaign for the Green Party. (CBC)

Dookeran is a high school teacher who ran for the Green Party in the riding in the last federal election.

"I tell my students to try to make the world a little better place, be part of the solution. Don't sit around complaining or bury your head in the sand. You have to walk the talk," she said.

"[Being a teacher] is one form of public service, but then sometimes after 29 years you start to feel maybe there's something more you can do."

Dookeran said reforming the electoral system, reducing both traffic congestion and people's reliance on cars, and building a green economy are some of her priorities.

"In many parts of Canada there are provincially-led transitions to cleaner, greener economies," she said.

"These transitions have a lot of bumps, there's a lot of bruising, it's a difficult transition — but a transition that needs to be made."

Mona Fortier, Liberal Party

Mona Fortier is running in a federal election campaign for the first time. (CBC)

Fortier is a businesswoman whose website touts the fact she worked with Bélanger on eight campaigns.

At her campaign launch, she praised the riding's diversity and echoed many of her party's main themes about equality and helping the middle class.

"I want to concentrate on affordable housing and social infrastructure to make sure people have access to different services," she said in an interview.

"I also want to focus on creating on new jobs for Ottawa—Vanier … I want to work in collaboration with local entrepreneurs and businesses to make sure we make jobs here."

Adrian Papara, Conservative Party

Adrian Papara is running in a federal election campaign for the first time. (CBC)

Papara has worked for two Conservative MPs on Parliament Hill and has been involved with the party's campaigns in Ottawa—Vanier in recent years.

"Working with two MPs, you see the life they go through every day. I totally understand what the duties of the MPs are and what people expect from an MP," he said.

"Putting myself in that mindset, in the shoes of an MP, I think I'm ready to do this."

Papara said his undergraduate studies in economics and his master's degree in business administration from the University of Ottawa give him the background to show what Liberal policies are doing to people's money.

"As a Conservative, my focus is to fight for taxes. Keeping taxes low for seniors, students and families," he said. "The other thing I'm very focused on is just being a voice for the taxpayer and keeping our government accountable."

Papara added he wants to make it more affordable for people like himself who are looking to buy their first home, as home ownership can help regenerate local economies and give people an asset as they save for retirement.

Emilie Taman, NDP

Emilie Taman is running in her second federal election campaign. (CBC)

Taman is a lawyer who ran for the NDP in the last federal election. Since then, she's stayed in the public eye by speaking out against plans to move Ottawa's central library branch out of Centretown.

She said the fact this is a byelection could play in her favour.

"The strategic voting aspect is taken right out of the equation," she said.

"There's not going to be a government turnover on election day, so people don't need to be worried about a prime minister they don't want. They're still going to have the same prime minister … so I think people feel a little more comfortable to base their vote on who the local candidate is."

She said the Liberals haven't kept some significant promises from the last campaign, so it's important to add progressive MPs to the House of Commons to "keep the government on track."

Key dates

Via Elections Canada:

  • Byelection called Feb. 19.
  • Registered voters should get their voter information card telling them when to vote by March 16.
  • Advanced voting days are March 24-27.
  • Voters can cast a ballot at the Elections Canada office (214 Montreal Rd., Suite 500) until March 28.
  • The deadline to apply to vote by mail is also March 28.
  • Voting day is April 3.

With files from Mylène Crête