Windsor

Ward 7 Coun. Irek Kusmierczyk 'moving towards' Windsor-Tecumseh Liberal announcement

The races for Windsor-Essex region's federal seats are heating up and the Liberal Party of Canada is building its presence in the area.

Windsor lawyer Audrey Festeryga is once again vying for the Essex riding as a Liberal

Ward 7 Coun. Irek Kusmierczyk said Windsor-Tecumseh needs a strong voice in Ottawa. (Dale Molnar/CBC)

The races for federal seats in Windsor-Essex are heating up — and the Liberal Party of Canada is working on building its presence in the area.

Windsor Ward 7 Coun. Irek Kusmierczyk said Monday he's "moving toward an announcement" later this week regarding the Liberal nomination for Windsor-Tecumseh.

Kusmierczyk, who was re-elected as Ward 7 councillor in 2018, said he's currently in the process of collecting the 100 signatures he needs to formally compete in the Liberal nomination race for his chosen riding. 

"Right now, we're getting the team together, filling out the application, getting all the signatures together," said Kusmierczyk, adding the support he's received has been "absolutely outstanding."

He said he's attempting to compete in the federal race "to make sure that we have a strong voice in Ottawa" that is able to bring investments, modernize infrastructure and protect "good-paying jobs in Windsor-Tecumseh."

New Democrat Cheryl Hardcastle is the latest member of the NDP to hold Windsor-Tecumseh, winning the seat in 2015. (Dale Molnar/CBC)

Kusmierczyk added he would talk about his chances against current NDP MP Cheryl Hardcastle, as well as the SNC-Lavalin affair, "as soon as we're in the race."

He previously ran as a Liberal in the same riding in 2011, placing third against Conservative Denise Ghanam and former NDP MP Joe Comartin who won the seat.

The NDP has held Windsor-Tecumseh since the district was first contested in 2004. Hardcastle was the latest New Democrat to win the district, having done so in 2015. 

"We have a democratic system that I appreciate very much, and I think anybody's who's running is party of … an important process," said Hardcastle. "I look forward to having candidates from all the parties that we can discuss all the issues that really face people."

Conservative candidate Leo Demarce, Green Party candidate Giovanni Abati and People's Party of Canada candidate Dan Burr are all challenging Hardcastle for the Windsor-Tecumseh seat in this year's federal election. 

"I'm fed up with the other parties," said Abati, describing the Green Party as 'grass roots.' 

"The Conservatives and Liberals seem to always push corporate needs ahead of people's needs or the environment."

Demarce, who was nominated in June, said he's prepared to "do his job."

"We have a lot of support," said Demarce. "I've got my nose to the grindstone. Voters are saying they're not happy with Trudeau and that they want a representative at the table."

According to Demarce, the community hasn't had representation "for decades."

"[The Liberals] are going to be competing with the NDP vote. We have a great base of Conservative voters and we're only building on that."

Festeryga vying for Essex

While Kusmiercyzk is working on his bid for Windsor-Tecumseh, Windsor lawyer Audrey Festeryga will once again run for the federal Essex riding as a Liberal. 

Festeryga said she'll be acclaimed this Friday as the Liberal party's Essex candidate.

She previously ran for the same seat during the 2015 federal election, placing third behind Conservative candidate Jeff Watson and successful NDP candidate Tracey Ramsey. 

"I'm running again because I think it's important that we have effective representative in Essex," said Festeryga. "There's nothing to be gained in voting for Jagmeet Singh and the NDP."

If she secures the nomination, this will be Audrey Festeryga's second attempt to secure Essex for the Liberal Party of Canada. (Audrey Festeryga/Facebook)

Festeryga said the NDP likely won't form a government, adding "it's really, really important that we have a voice at the table."

She added that Conservative party leader Andrew Scheer "is not going to help the constituents of Essex."

"We need a real fighter in our corner and I'm prepared to be that person," said Festeryga. 

She acknowledged the SNC-Lavalin affair, saying "there aren't that many people at the doors who are really caring about that."

Instead, Festeryga said the constituents with whom she's spoken have been more concerned about jobs. 

"I was out yesterday knocking on doors, and the auto industry is definitely the foremost concern," she said. "The jobs at Chrysler, the third shift, Nemak, they're all a huge concern."

NDP MP Tracey Ramsey secured the Essex riding for the New Democrats in 2015. (Katerina Georgieva/CBC)

Festeryga added she supports Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's time in office. 

The NDP's Tracey Ramsey claimed the federal Essex riding from former Conservative MP Jeff Watson in 2015, who won the riding in 2004.

"Our team has been working hard all year canvassing and talking to voters about issues that are important to them," said Ramsey, in a statement. "I am excited for this campaign and I wish all the candidates in Windsor Essex good luck."

Ramsey will also face challenges from Conservative Chris Lewis and People's Party of Canada candidate Bill Capes in the upcoming election. 

"I was impressed by Maxime Bernier originally leaving his set position in the Conservative Party," said Capes about his decision to run. "I'll stick with it and see where it goes."

Sandra Pupatello previously announced her plans to seek the Windsor West Liberal nomination.

Katie Omstead is once again the Liberal candidate for Chatham-Kent-Leamington.

Corrections

  • A previous version of this story incorrectly quoted Essex Liberal nominee Audrey Festeryga as having said that Conservative party leader Andrew Scheer would help the constituents of Essex. She said that he would not help them. This story has been corrected.
    Aug 27, 2019 7:20 PM ET

With files from Dale Molnar

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