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Liberals win Ottawa-Centre

NDP boasted star supporters, but it wasn't enough for Ontario's second gayest riding

EDGING OUT THE COMPETITION. Liberal candidate Yasir Naqvi is shown giving his victory speech at the Heart And Crown in Little Italy on Wed, Oct 10. Credit: (video still)

The heated race for Ottawa Centre ended in a win for Liberal Party candidate Yasir Naqvi, edging out Will Murray of the NDP.

Provincewide, the Liberals garnered 42 per cent of the popular vote and 70 of the 107 ridings.

Ottawa Centre was considered by many political insiders to be a must-have for the NDP if they hoped to gain seats at Queen’s Park. Naqvi arrived somewhat unfashionably late to his campaign headquarters at the Heart & Crown on Preston. Many news channels predicted Naqvi’s win in advance, but he remained humble until the official results were in.

“The Liberals had strong public demonstrations this year and anxiety is always high,” said Naqvi upon his arrival. “I look forward to continuing the Liberal tradition in this riding.”

Naqvi thanked his volunteers and applauded his opponent’s efforts.

“They are all incredibly talented individuals. I look forward to working with them all and listening to their ideas so we can make Ottawa Centre a better place to live.”
A few blocks away, NDP supporters at Murray’s party included Ottawa political figures such as Councilor Diane Holmes and MP Paul Dewar — along with his mother, former mayor Marion Dewar.

Holmes was pulling for a NDP win, specifically to see more funding go into public housing, something she says only the NDP would provide. Dewar put his faith in Murray and said his campaigning style was exemplary.

“Every time I talked to people (in Ottawa centre) they would tell me they saw Will out and about asking constituent questions. He is a very charismatic person,” said Dewar.

Dewar introduced Murray for his concession speech where Murray thanked his fellow candidates and vowed to continue to work for the people of Ottawa.
Ottawa Centre is one of Canada’s most affluent and ethnically diverse areas, with significant Italian, Chinese and Vietnamese communities and ten per cent of residents listing French as their mother tongue.

Ottawa Centre also boasts the third highest rate of University educated individuals in the province, with 30 per cent of residents possessing University degrees. However the voters of Ottawa Centre are less diverse when it comes to who they choose to elect. Ottawa Centre has always been controlled by either the NDP or the Liberals.

The NDP’s Mike Cassidy held the post from 1971 to 1984 when he resigned to run federally. The NDP’s Evelyn Gigantes took over, winning a byelection and the general election of 1985. Gigantes was ousted by Liberal Richard Patten in 1987, but knocked him out in a 1990 rematch. Patten got his vengeance, defeating Gigantes a second time in 1995. Patten proceeded to be re-elected in 1999 and in 2003.