'Insulting' to say voters not interested in byelections: Ontario Labour minister

MPP Yasir Naqvi speaks to the media during at press conference to discuss the new 2013 provincial budget at the Employment Ontario/Taggart Family YMCA in Ottawa Friday, May 3, 2013.

Credits: Darren Brown/Ottawa Sun/QMI Agency


TORONTO -- It's "insulting to voters" to suggest they won't pay attention to summer byelections, Ontario Liberal Labour Minister Yasir Naqvi says.

"People take elections very seriously," Naqvi said Thursday. "I think it's important that we have an election as soon as possible so those communities can have representatives."

Democracy Watch and provincial opposition parties have criticized Premier Kathleen Wynne's decision to hold byelections on Aug. 1, accusing her of suppressing voter attendance in a move that usually favours the incumbent party -- in this case, the Liberals.

The byelections to be held in five ridings around Ontario are shaping up to be a test of all three provincial parties, and a shutout for the NDP, Liberals or Tories would prove extremely damaging to the party leader.

PC Leader Tim Hudak, who has yet to win a riding in the City of Toronto, welcomed high-profile Toronto Councillor Doug Holyday as a candidate in Etobicoke-Lakeshore.

"We're really happy that Doug Holyday has decided to step in," said Hudak.

The Tory leader -- under pressure to win urban seats -- said he would not step down even if his party goes zero for five in the byelections.

Naqvi said he was surprised that Holyday would align himself with Hudak, who, as part of the Mike Harris government,  downloaded significant costs onto municipalities and cancelled public transit projects.

"So I don't understand why Mr. Holyday thinks those are good ideas for City of Toronto," he said.

Naqvi said his government has helped the City of Toronto through initiatives, like uploading of social service costs.

"That is why the people of Toronto continue to elect Liberal MPPs because they deliver," he said.

Etobicoke-Lakeshore MPP Laurel Broten resigned after she was demoted for her handling of teacher negotiations and Scarborough-Guildwood MPP Margarett Best left after she was dumped from cabinet.

"Both Margarett Best and Laurel Broten were strong MPPs and they were very strong members of our government," Naqvi said.

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