The local election race is about to jump into high gear this week with the selection of a Liberal candidate during a nomination meeting scheduled to take place this Thursday night at the Shenkman Arts Centre.
The meeting is being held a week after the federal election got underway and just three short weeks before area residents can vote in a series of advance polls. The General Election will be held on Monday, Oct. 21.
More than 6,000 local Liberal members are eligible to vote during the nomination meeting where they must choose between Orléans MPP Marie-France Lalonde, who is hoping to make the switch from Queen's Park to the House of Commons, and Khatera Akbari, who stepped down as the local riding association president to challenge Lalonde.
Whoever wins the nomination will have to hit the ground running.
The Conservative candidate, David Bertschi, has been knocking on doors and meeting potential voters for the better part of four months, backed up by a small army of volunteers.
All those doors and all those voter encounters has resulted in a smattering of lawn signs throughout the riding which includes all of Orléans west of Trim Road and Blackburn Hamlet.
On Saturday, more than 60 supporters were on hand for the official opening of Bertschi's campaign headquarters on St. Joseph Blvd.
Scattered throughout the enthusiastic crowd were a number of disavowed former Liberal supporters such as former Cumberland town councillor Fern Casey who plans to vote Conservative for the first time in 72 years.
"I'm supporting David because I think he will be a very strong voice for Orléans and hopefully he will be able to get us almost as much as the west end has,” said Casey. "I have so much confidence in David. I had hoped he won the nomination the last time, but as you know, Trudeau stepped in and chose to appoint a star candidate, which was a real shame. But I'm standing by David because I believe in him so much.”
Casey was referring to the Liberal nomination process in the run up to the 2014 General Election when Bertschi was disqualified from running by the Liberal Party of Canada, which paved the way for outgoing Liberal MP Andrew Leslie to run unopposed.
The retired Lieutenant General is stepping down after serving just one term.
Bertschi switched party allegiance in the spring, citing a number of reasons including Prime Minister Trudeau's mishandling of the SNC-Lavalin affair, and what he sees as a systematic attack on Canada's shrinking middle class.
Under a Conservative government lead by Andrew Scheer, Canadians will no longer have to pay GST on their heating bills, or pay for the Liberal's controversial carbon tax which would be scrapped immediately, said Bertschi.
Those words were music to the ears of Gerry Carisse who has cast his ballot in past elections depending on the candidate. This time around, he plans to vote for Bertschi.
"I like David's approach to community. He's been here for a long time and he's been involved in everything. And he's a listener, which is a pleasant change. A lot of politicians say they will listen to their constituents, but I've been with David going door-to-door and my goodness, he's done a lot of listening already.”
The other names that will be on the ballot in October are NDP candidate
Jacqui Wiens and Green Party represen-tative Michelle Peterson.
Wiens is currently splitting her time between canvassing door-to-door and studying history and political science at the University of Ottawa. Her key issue is climate change and the need for Canadians to do more when it comes to reducing carbon emissions.
Peterson is a registered psychotherapist who has worked in the community services sec-tor in Ottawa for 15 years.
She is a working single mom with a five-year old child who wants to champion the need for expanded mental health services in Canada.
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