The faithful turned out again for the Liberal candidate in Ottawa-Vanier Thursday night.
The riding has been unwavering red, federally and provincially, since 1971 when the Progressive Conservatives were defeated.
The 2022 Ontario election saw Liberal candidate Lucille Collard re-elected with 41 per cent of the vote, on a platform spotlighting education, health care and public services. She is one of eight Liberal MPPs headed to Queen’s Park after the massive victory by Doug Ford and the Progressive Conservatives.
Not all voters were impressed with the Liberal banner, however. Some liked the effort put in by NDP candidate Lyra Evans, as they felt Collard did not put in the leg work to earn their vote.
“I changed my vote,” said Vanier resident Mary Salegio. “In this riding they always vote Liberal. It will be Liberal, Liberal, Liberal. We all know it. However, the only people that contacted us were the NDP. Other than that we didn’t get any contact. Only the NDP.”
In addition to her campaigning efforts, Evans, an Ottawa-Carleton District School Board trustee and activist, whose 9,503 votes represented a quarter of the ballots at the night’s end, was the first transgender candidate of a major political party in Ontario. Her platform targeted front of mind issues including homelessness, healthcare, and education — all major issues for Vanier residents.
The cost of living was top of mind for Vanier voters, as 47.8 per cent of residents are living in low income according to data from the 2022 Ottawa Neighbourhood Study. The same study suggests 34.7 per cent of Vanier North and 35.4 per cent of Vanier South residents spend more than 30 per cent of their income on shelter costs.
Evans’ firsthand experience with homelessness as a teen and emphasis on affordable housing also resonated with young voters who want to see the housing crisis addressed in Vanier.
“What matters most is the people,” Mackenzie Brochu said as she prepared to deliver her vote. “For the Ottawa-Vanier area the homelessness is a big thing. We need to get people off the streets and give them the resources they need. I know that Lyra was homeless as a youth, which speaks to her abilities to relate.”
Housing affordability and cost of living remained top priorities for Conservative voter, John Wright, who says he has to work part time to make ends meet.
“I can’t live off what I get from my three pensions,” Wright said. “The gas prices…ridiculous. When’s that going to stop?”
Although Evans did not win, she said she is glad for the opportunity to have had conversations about pressing issues in Vanier.
“There are more important things than winning. We got to talk about affordable housing. We got to talk about the homeless. We got to talk about the negative impacts the government has had on the riding,” Evans said from the Earl of Sussex patio in Ottawa’s Byward Market on election night.
“I’m very proud of the job we did doing that.”