The mood at the Clocktower Brew Pub on Richmond Road was ebullient Thursday night as Liberal supporters clustered around the pub’s flat-screen TVs, cheering wildly as the party took riding after riding for a surprise majority win.
The triumphant moment came when newly reelected Ottawa Centre MPP Yasir Naqvi strode in just after 10:30pm, beaming widely as he was greeted by his supporters. This is the third consecutive win for Naqvi, who promised in his acceptance speech to keep the Ottawa River clean, support the second phase of LRT development in the city, and continue making quality healthcare and education available to all Ontarians.
Jeff Morrison, a prominent gay community member and city council candidate, praised Naqvi’s work in helping to secure funding for the Centretown Community Health Centre and expressed his confidence in a Liberal win for Ontario.
“I think overall a Liberal win is good news not just for the LGBT community, but for Ontarians. It’s going to mean more investment in the second phase of the LRT; it’s going to mean funding for the Ottawa River cleanup. So overall, I think this is great news.”
With his win, Naqvi beat Progressive Conservative candidate Rob Dekker, Green Party candidate Kevin O’Donnell and Jennifer McKenzie of the NDP. In holding his seat, Naqvi will continue to represent Ottawa’s most diverse downtown riding.
“This has been my home for a long, long time, and I think I represent the diversity of Ottawa Centre,” he says, referencing his Pakistani heritage. He also emphasized his commitment to listening to and working with the community in creating solutions.
“I ran to be the MPP for Ottawa Centre, so that’s the job I’m focused on, and that’s the job I’m so fortunate to have earned today,” says Naqvi, who is also a champion of the provincial trans rights bill. “I want to make sure that we raise education and awareness about things like harm reduction. That community is part and parcel of the solution that we create, as opposed to [imposing] any solutions so that we don’t run into things like NIMBYism.”
Known as a vocal supporter of the LGBT community, Naqvi also expressed his support for Premier Kathleen Wynne, saying the election of Canada’s first openly gay premier marks a new era of acceptance for Ontario.
“I think it speaks volumes of our province in terms of inclusiveness that the premier’s sexual orientation was never an issue,” he says. “She has been judged on the quality of her character, on the quality of her ideas and her strength . . . [It’s] just a great symbol of what our province in this day and age stands for. I’m very proud to call myself a Kathleen Wynne Liberal.”
“I think it will be excellent,” says community member Shelley Gosse of Wynne’s election. “I think she’s a good person and she put up with a lot. I felt as if she was really put on the line by others, and she held her position quite well. I think she’ll do a good job.”
Naqvi has a reputation as a tireless campaigner and is a constant and visible presence at community events. “I’ve done a ton of door knocking with Yasir, and people are really enthusiastic,” says Catherine McKenna, Ottawa Centre nominee for the federal Liberal Party. “He’s a role model for me as someone who’s going to be running federally. He’s really reached out to people and resonates.”
Naqvi promised to continue making himself available to the community during his third term as MPP. “Give me a month or two and I’ll be out knocking on your door.”