Ready, set, vote. Lawn signs and campaign flyers are in the forecast during the next four weeks, as provincial candidates vie for votes in the London region. Wednesday is the first day of the campaign ahead of the June 2 general election. Here’s the lay of the land in the 10-riding London region as the provincial campaign gets underway.
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Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservatives swept to a majority in the 2018 general election, winning 76 seats. Andrea Horwath’s New Democrats became the official opposition as Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals lost official party status in the legislature after their worst election defeat.
The NDP held their two existing local seats – in London West and London-Fanshawe – and picked up London North Centre from the Liberals, who had held the seat since 2003.
The early outlook in the 10-riding London region
The remaining seven ridings in the London area – from Huron-Bruce in the north to Chatham-Kent-Leamington and Sarnia-Lambton – belonged to the PCs.
THE BIG PICTURE
The Ontario legislature has 124 seats, meaning a party needs at least 63 to form a majority government. However, the more the better, because the Speaker usually hails from the ruling party, reducing its seat count by one.
This is the fourth provincial election Andrea Horwath has been the New Democrat leader and the second for Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford. This is Steven Del Duca’s first election as Liberal leader.
REGIONAL RACES TO WATCH
The urban-rural riding covering south London, Lambeth, Elgin County and Thames Centre is guaranteed a fresh face at Queen’s Park. Progressive Conservative MPP Jeff Yurek, a former cabinet minister under Ford who was first elected in 2011, stepped down in February.
Former MPP Rick Nicholls was booted from the PC caucus last summer for refusing the COVID-19 vaccine. Nicholls is running for re-election as a candidate for the Ontario Party, a party on the political right led by former MP and social conservative Derek Sloan.
PC MPP Randy Pettapiece, who was first elected in 2011, is not be seeking re-election, leaving an open race in the riding covering Stratford, St. Marys and up to Mount Forest in the north.
CAMPAIGN PROMISES FOR LONDON AREA
- Ford’s PCs have promised to relocate Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Bureau head office to London, including the election promise in its final budget. The local job market impact, location and exact timeline remain unclear.
- The NDP have committed to reintroducing the Our London Family Act, an anti-Islamophobia bill named for the Afzaal family killed in an alleged hate-motivated attack last June, in the next legislative session. The bill was introduced in late February but died with the provincial election call.
- The PCs in their 2022 budget promised more than $1 billion in upgrades to electricity transmission infrastructure between London, Windsor and Sarnia. The projects would be developed in phases through 2030.
AT THE BALLOT BOX
- Ontario voters will be heading to the polls in June for the second pandemic-era election in the province, the first being the 2021 federal election last fall.
- Ontarians can cast their ballots on election day, in advance polls or at their riding’s returning office from the day after an election is called to 6 p.m. the day before the vote. Elections Ontario applications for voting by mail open May 4 and close May 27.
- The list of candidates in individual ridings has not been finalized. The Elections Ontario deadline for candidates to get on the ballot is May 12.