No writ? No problem: Ottawa candidates kick off provincial election campaigns

The writ doesn't drop until Wednesday, but some of Ottawa's most high-profile candidates in this June's provincial election have already gotten a head start.

Writ drops Wednesday but NDP, Liberal, PC campaigns already in full swing

From left to right, Joel Harden, Yasir Naqvi and Lisa MacLeod have all kicked off their provincial election campaigns in Ottawa, even though the writ has yet to drop. (Stu Mills/CBC/Darren Calabrese)

The provincial election writ doesn't drop until Wednesday, but some of Ottawa's most high-profile candidates have already gotten a head start on their campaigns.

On Sunday, several hundred people came out to see Lisa MacLeod, the Progressive Conservative MPP for Nepean–Carleton, kick off her re-election bid.

"I have a lot more work to do," said MacLeod, who has represented Nepean–Carleton since 2006 and will be running this time in the new riding of Nepean.

According to Elections Ontario, candidates are allowed to hand out brochures and put up lawn signs before the official start of the election period, as long as they're authorized and paid for by either the party or the constituency association.

Candidates themselves cannot incur expenses or pay for advertising before the writ drops.

Ottawa MPP for Nepean–Carleton Lisa MacLeod kicked off her re-election campaign in Nepean on Sunday. (Idil Mussa/CBC)

Hydro 'number one issue'

MacLeod said easing traffic in her riding is one of the priorities she'd focus on if she's returned to office.

"One of the projects I'd like to see to fruition is a new exit on [Highway] 416 at Barnsdale," she said.

"I'd like to work with [local councillors] and others to try and mitigate some of the traffic issues that we're seeing on the way to Barrhaven on Greenbank. There have been a number of tragic accidents there."

However, MacLeod said the "number one issue" facing her community — and many others across the province — is the high cost of electricity.

She also said Sunday she has complete faith in Doug Ford as the PC Party's leader.

"He's a breath of fresh air, particularly in light of the fractious period we had from January until March," she said.

"I really like his style. I think the fact that he is a grassroots politician really speaks volumes on what we want in Ontario today. Somebody that doesn't use a 10-dollar word when a buck would suffice."

Yasir Naqvi, the MPP for Ottawa Centre and the province's attorney general, is seeking a fourth consecutive election win. (Muriel Draaisma/CBC)

Naqvi touts record

MacLeod launched her campaign one day after Yasir Naqvi, the Liberal MPP for Ottawa Centre and the province's attorney general, hammered in his first lawn sign.

Naqvi said Sunday that the Liberals have been in power for the past 15 years because of a strong record of building public services, particularly in sectors like health care and education.

"I want to continue with that work of making sure that we've got good schools in the downtown core, that we continue with the building of the LRT that is extremely beneficial to my community," he said.

"And most importantly, I want to see the new Civic Campus of the Ottawa Hospital built. That is a very significant health care project."

Skyrocketing hydro bills have plagued the Liberals, however, with Naqvi noting Sunday that "affordability is an issue" and that "not everybody is benefiting from the strength of the economy."

However, he hoped his party's investments in mental health care and child care have alleviated some of the financial pressures Ontarians are facing.

"That will help them, in terms of providing better care for their loved ones or for their children," he said.

"But it's also going to save them a significant amount of money."

NDP candidate Joel Harden is hoping to unseat Yasir Naqvi in Ottawa Centre and turn the riding orange for the first time since 1995. (Idil Mussa/CBC)

An NDP upset?

The NDP may not hold any seats in the city, but first-time candidate Joel Harden is hoping to unseat Naqvi in Ottawa Centre.

Harden's signs already dot a number of lawns in the riding — one he says is among the most "politically astute" in the country.

"In 2015, we had an 82 per cent voter turnout rate, the highest in Canada," said Harden, who has a background in education and community organizing.

Harden said people in the riding are most concerned about issues like affordable housing, long-term care for seniors, access to dental care and pharmacare, and high hydro costs.

A lot of folks are trying to structure the conversation to make it seem as if we can only choose between bad and worse.- Ottawa Centre NDP candidate Joel Harden

He said the key will be turning that dissatisfaction into votes, while convincing people they don't have to simply pick between the Liberals and Conservatives.

"The engine of this campaign is frustrated former Liberal voters, frustrated Green voters, frustrated Conservative voters and — most importantly — people who've never voted before taking an interest in this campaign," Harden said.

"A lot of folks are trying to structure the conversation to make it seem as if we can only choose between bad and worse."

The provincial election will take place June 7.