Tag: election

Liberals follow the national trend and win majority in Nepean

Liberals follow the national trend and win majority in Nepean

Andy Wang pumpkin 2Maybe Andy Wang just wasn’t ready.

After a close race leading up to the election, Wang, the Conservative candidate in Nepean, lost to Liberal candidate Chandra Arya.

The 27-year-old’s age didn’t appear as a deal-breaker from the outset for voters: there’s been a trend of young Conservative leaders in the west end of Ottawa. Former MP and Foreign Minister John Baird won a provincial seat for Nepean at age 25, before moving to federal politics at 37 years old, and Pierre Poilievre first won his federal seat in Nepean-Carleton at 25.

Throughout this year’s campaign, Conservative attack ads accused Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau of being “just not ready” for leadership, due to his perceived inexperience and youth—he’s 43.

“It’s a sad day for the country. This young boy that we have as a prime minister is not ready and it’s going to be terrible,” said Darrell Bartraw, a Wang supporter who helped distribute signs for the campaign.

Andy WangWang and his campaign manager, Ashton Arsenault, who celebrated his 30th birthday with supporters on election night, are both more than a decade younger than Trudeau, while Arya is 52. However, supporters see Wang and Arsenault’s youth as an advantage.

“What a great bunch of young kids that worked on this campaign,” said Bartraw.

Arriving to the Broadway Bar and Grill on Strandherd Drive to cheers from supporters, Wang didn’t see Arya’s win as related to age at all.

“I think for this election it was clear that they didn’t really understand who they were voting for,” he said, “but they knew who they were voting against.”

The Public Service Alliance of Canada and the Professional Institute of Public Service of Canada targeted Nepean as a riding in which their members could have an influence and encouraged them to vote for anyone but Stephen Harper. PSAC has around 2,700 members in Nepean while PIPSC has about 3,300.

Harper wrote an open letter to the public service on Oct. 1, expressing gratitude and support from the party, as well as stating that unions have made misleading statements about sick leave and pensions. Wang joined Poilievre and other local Conservative candidates to publicly release the letter at a press conference that day.

However, it didn’t seem to be enough.

Arya won his seat in the new riding of Nepean with 52 per cent of the vote.

Pierre Poilievre’s riding split in two this year, and he stayed on in Nepean-Carleton, while Wang, his former constituency office manager, represented the Conservatives in the new riding of Nepean.

The 27-year-old capitalized on his Chinese heritage to engage the large Chinese-speaking community in the riding—outside of English and French, Chinese, both Mandarin and Cantonese, is the most widely spoken language there. He won as local leader of the Conservatives over Bob Plamondon, a consultant and author, who at 57 years old was a more experienced contender for the position.

While Wang said he would be taking a break with his wife following the federal election, he said he still intends to stay involved with the Conservative Party.

“I still believe in the message, I still believe this is what we need to fight for and four years is not very long,” he said.

In need of a home: Affordable housing a key election issue in Ottawa Centre

There is a waitlist of nearly 10,000 people in Ottawa for subsidized housing and many stay on that list for more than five years, according to the City of Ottawa.

“I’ve got something like one project a week that we’re not able to do because funding or the economic circumstances don’t support it, said Ray Sullivan, executive director of the Centretown Citizens Ottawa Corporation (CCOC). The non-profit affordable housing organization hasn’t been able to develop any new homes this year due to decreased funding by the Conservative government.

In Centretown, in the Ottawa Centre riding, 35 per cent of tenant households are spending more than 30 per cent of their total income on housing, according to the 2011 National Housing Survey;  The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, Canada’s national housing agency, sets affordable housing as a shelter that doesn’t cost more than 30 per cent of household income.

“We’ve knocked on 70,000 doors and I go to affordable housing and social housing that is literally falling down,” said Catherine McKenna, the Liberal candidate in Ottawa Centre.

On June 19, McKenna released a statement calling for a national housing strategy, well in advance of the Liberal Party of Canada’s housing platform, Affordable Housing for Canadians was released on Sept. 9.

Both Sullivan of CCOC and Simone Thibault, executive director of the Centretown Community Health Centre (CCHC), a non-profit health and social service organization, said a national strategy for housing is essential.

“It’s important to maintain what stock we do have, it’s precious to people who need to access it,” said Thibault. She identified two important affordable housing issues in Centretown: maintenance of older buildings and a mix of housing in the area, including high-, middle- and low-income units.

“It’s not just a case of social housing, but affordability of housing right across the spectrum,” said Sullivan, adding that a national housing strategy should address the affordability and accessibility of both tenancy and home ownership.

As a party, the Liberals have also adopted a policy recommendation to create an affordable national housing strategy, although it has not been directly included in their election platform.

While the NDP has not yet released a housing platform, party leader Tom Mulcair has promised to commit $5 billion to housing and other municipality infrastructure, according to the Toronto Star. Paul Dewar Ottawa Centre NDP incumbent has been active in supporting organizations involved in providing affordable housing in Centretown, like CCOC and CCHC.

“He’s actually a former CCOC tenant,” said Sullivan, “so he understands what we’re doing and the importance of affordable housing.”

Paul Dewar did not respond by press time.