Thursday's Sault Ste. Marie byelection provides a test of the Liberals popularity in a riding that they have held since 2003. The announcement of $15 an hour minimum salary, an easier unionization process, equal pay for part-time workers, 10 personal emergency leave days a year, and a minimum of 3 weeks vacation after five years of employment with the same firm just a couple of days before the byelection suggest the Liberals are worried about losing both the byelection and the provincial election next year, especially when Wynne herself said that she saw no reason to change the small annual increments in minimum wage based on inflation as recently as January.
But now victory in the Sault appears within reach of all three parties, all of which have campaigned hard and recruited locally respected candidates, according to Trevor Tchir, a political science professor at Sault Ste. Marie’s Algoma University. ...
Observers are interested to see if the Liberals can hold on to the riding, despite recent low poll numbers for the party and Premier Kathleen Wynne, Tchir said. They’ll face tough opposition from the Progressive Conservative Party, which is polling well across the province, and the NDP, which has a strong northern caucus.
PC Candidate Ross Romano, a city councillor, got a head start in the race, Tchir said. He was nominated in early November to represent his party in the June 2018 general election – before Liberal cabinet minister David Orazietti announced he would step down in December, prompting the byelection.
Romano has been telling voters it’s time to take the government to task on high electricity rates and Liberal scandals, a message the PCs would like to see resonate in Sault Ste. Marie and across the province next year, said Tchir.
The NDP recruited another city councillor, Joe Krmpotich, in January. Since then, party leader Andrea Horwath has been up to Sault Ste. Marie at least half a dozen times campaigning on his behalf, she said. The trips have shown her the people of Sault Ste. Marie aren’t happy with being ignored by the Liberal government and want someone to fight for them, Horwath said.
The Liberals were the last to find a candidate. Former Mayor Debbie Amaroso was nominated in late April, less than a week before the writ dropped. Her message to voters is that an MPP from the governing party is in a better position to get things done that one in opposition. ...
Major local issues include electricity prices and jobs, said Tchir. Sault Ste. Marie is one of several northern cities hoping to be home to a chromite smelter that would provide a boost to local employment and economic growth, and all three candidates have vowed to advocate for it to be built in the area.