Stephen Blais to represent Liberals in Orléans byelection
Councillor for Cumberland ward will only step down if he wins
Cumberland Coun. Stephen Blais will run for the Liberals in the riding of Orléans in an upcoming provincial byelection.
Blais won the party's nomination Saturday afternoon over Rachel Décoste, his lone competitor in the race.
Of the roughly 500 ballots cast, Blais received nearly three-quarters of the vote.
"The turnout today was amazing. Two-thirds of our members showed up to vote at the nomination. That's absolutely incredible," said the three-term city councillor.
"It shows that the Liberal party in Orléans is strong and vibrant. And we're ready. We're ready to have an MPP at Queen's Park. We're ready for Doug Ford to call the byelection."
Byelection by next March
A well-known politician in Ottawa's east end and the current chair of the city's transportation committee, Blais was handily re-elected in the last two municipal elections.
The former transit commission chair been widely credited for his advocacy work to bring LRT to Orléans during the second phase of the city's light rail project.
The riding became vacant when Marie-France Lalonde stepped down in September to run for the Liberals in last month's federal election. That left the Liberals' provincial caucus with only five members — three short of official party status.
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 has said he will only resign his council seat if he wins that byelection.
Highway an 'absolute priority'
After securing the nomination Saturday, Blais spoke about what he would focus on should voters eventually send him to the provincial legislature.
One big item: taking the financial responsibility for Highway 174, which cuts through the riding, out of the City of Ottawa's hands.
"Offloading 174 is an absolute priority. The province downloaded it to the city, to the region, in the late 90s. Since then [we've] spent tens of millions of dollars maintaining this highway," Blais said.
"In almost every other part of the province, it would be a regional-provincial highway."
With files from Radio-Canada