NDP select Coenraad to run in K-C by-election

KANATA-CARLETON – Last night (May 15) the Kanata-Carleton provincial NDP riding association selected Melissa Coenraad to lead the party in an upcoming provincial by-election with no date set at this time.

Coenraad, a Kanata resident, is no stranger to West Carleton as this will be her fourth election campaign in the riding in the last five years. Coenraad has run as a federal candidate in the last two elections and in the last provincial election in June 2022.

Last March Kanata-Carleton MPP Dr. Merrilee Fullerton suddenly resigned from office after less than a year in to her second term as MPP.

That triggered a by-election which must be called within six months of Fullerton’s official resignation which means the by-election must happen before Sept. 24. The writ will be issued by the Chief Electoral Officer and following that, the Lieutenant Governor in Council (Elizabeth Dowdeswell) will appoint a day for the close of the nomination period, and an election will follow exactly two weeks after.

With that tight timeline, there’s no time to waste, and the NDP riding association believes Coenraad gives them the best chance to win in a riding that has generally been blue for a long time.

Coenraad is a Kanata resident, but grew up in the rural community of Stirling, ON. Coenraad is a healthcare worker and labour rights advocate, as an executive board member and regional vice president for the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU).

Last night a group of around 100 NDP supporters helped elect Coenraad as the candidate, and celebrate the decision following the selection.

“It was great,” Coenraad told West Carleton Online today (May 16). “We had supporters from all over the city and a number of labour groups were present too.”

Also, some of the heavy-hitting NDP’ers. Ontario NDP Leader Marit Stiles, leader of Ontario’s official opposition and MPP for Davenport; Ottawa West-Nepean MPP Chandra Pasma and Ottawa Centre MPP Joel Harden were all in attendance for the important decision.

“There was a great energy in the room, imagining what we could accomplish,” Coenraad said.

Whenever the by-election for Kanata-Carleton is called, it will be West Carleton’s first by-elections in at least 100 years in an area that has been basically Conservative since 1871.

But there is a sense the Kanata-Carleton Riding could be wide open this election.

“It’s going to be an exciting time given we’re getting ready less than a year after the last election,” Coenraad said. “It’s definitely a lot of work. We’re in such an uncomfortable place in Ontario right now.”

Coenraad points to the fast-rising cost of housing and food in the province. Coenraad says she hears constituents saying school class sizes are also getting too big. She says green space and urban sprawl, healthcare and family doctors will be election issues as well.

“People are looking for stability and they want better from their government,” Coenraad said. “They feel Doug Ford is catering to the elite. I want to represent and push back and show this government we’re ready for change.”

But when that change can come is not known, as candidates are in the awkward position of running a campaign to an unknown date.

“We will hit the ground running,” Coenraad said. “We’ll be knocking on doors. We want to know what’s changed over the last year and we want to hear that from voters.”

Coenraad says NDP leader Stiles will be returning to the riding to help with the campaign launch. Coenraad says that’s a sign the NDP knows this riding is important and thinks the party can win it.

“We’re going to get a big team together and get started,” Coenraad said. “We know we can win this riding. She knows we can win this riding and she’s helping us build a team that can do that.”

Coenraad expects she will launch her campaign website early next week, but in the meantime can be contacted via her official Facebook page here.

Four years of West Carleton Online’s political coverage of Melissa Coenraad can be found here.

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