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Gay candidate seeks NDP nomination in Ottawa Centre

NDP insider Jamey Heath wants Ed Brodabent's seat

Credit: (Shawn Scallen)

The federal riding of Ottawa Centre is expected to see a vigorous election campaign when the writ is dropped later this year or early next year.

Ed Broadbent’s recent announcement he plans to retire after this term due to his wife’s illness has thrown open the race.

Richard Mahoney, a well-connected Liberal and close friend of Paul Martin won his party’s nomination May 17. The Conservative choice is Keith Fountain, a former foreign service officer.

In the last two decades, either the Liberals or the NDP have usually won Ottawa Centre riding both provincially and federally.

Mahoney lost the 2004 race to former NDP leader Broadbent but has kept a high media profile. And he has nurtured connections within the gay community for years.

But many local gays and lesbians are watching the NDP nomination race to see if out gay man Jamey Heath, the research and communications director for the caucus under leader Jack Layton, scoops his party’s nomination.

Heath announced his candidacy May 23. The riding’s NDP members, he said in a media release, need someone able to beat Mahoney. Heath did better than expected when he carried the NDP banner in Ottawa Centre for the 1997 federal election. Up against entrenched Liberal Mac Harb, Heath nevertheless pulled in approximately half the votes of Harb and nearly doubled the votes of the Tory candidate.

Heath, 32, has a background in community politics. A former writer for Capital Xtra, he has worked on housing, environmental and education issues since 1991.

Lawyer Tammi Murray and Paul Dewar have also declared in the race for the Ottawa Centre NDP nomination.

The nomination meeting is Jun 23.