Strong MPPs in the north scaring away would-be challengers, analyst suggests

With less than two months until voting day, there are a lot of blank spaces on the ballots in northeastern Ontario. Only about half of the candidates for the three main provincial parties have been named in the region's nine ridings.

Candidates can still get on the ballot until May 17

About half of the candidates for the three major parties in northeastern Ontario still need to be named with voting day less than two months away. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

With less than two months until voting day, there are a lot of blank spaces on the ballots in northeastern Ontario.

Only about half of the candidates for the three main provincial parties have been named in the region's nine ridings.

It's creating some headaches for Nick Stewart, communications manager at the Timmins Chamber of Commerce.

"It's very difficult to advocate for business priorities to candidates who don't exist yet," he says with a laugh.

Stewart says chambers across the province are having a hard time getting their message out with local candidates still to be named, plus trying to organize all candidates debates.

"From a logistics standpoint it's incredibly challenging to plan for an event where again three quarters of the people you want to speak at it haven't yet emerged," he says.

Plans for all candidates debates, like this CBC event during the 2015 Sudbury byelection, are on hold until parties nominate candidates in all nine ridings in the northeast. (Yvon Theriault/Radio-Canada)

Kate Harrison, a senior consultant with Suma Strategies who has worked on Conservative election campaigns, says this lack of candidates is very surprising given the fixed election date.

And she expects parties are scrambling to nominate candidates and get campaign teams set.

"It's important that they get someone nominated quickly, but it's equally important that it be the right person for the region, otherwise they're not setting themselves up for success," Harrison says.

All the blank spaces on the ballot could also be a sign that there won't be many close races in the northeast.

Local campaigns in northeastern Ontario's nine ridings can't print lawn signs or pamphlets until a candidate is named. (Erik White/CBC)

Bob Richardson, senior counsel at National Public Relations who was once chief-of-staff to former Ontario Liberal Leader Lyn McLeod, says the region has many strong MPPs who will be tough to beat on June 7.

"It's tough for parties to get people to step up to the plate when they know what the likely outcome is going to be," Richardson says.

"I think if they haven't found candidates in these ridings you'll see a staffer, a former staffer, a riding president or a local stalwart taking one for the team."

The election campaign officially gets underway May 9, but parties have until May 17 to nominate candidates.

About the Author

Erik White

journalist

Erik White is a CBC journalist based in Sudbury. He covers a wide range of stories about northern Ontario. Connect with him on Twitter @erikjwhite. Send story ideas to erik.white@cbc.ca