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Search continues for Liberal byelection candidate as support for Wynne plummets

Premier Kathleen Wynne's approval rating is approaching single digits
20170324 Sault Ste Marie Provincial Constituency Office Move KA
Movers transport items to the new Sault Ste. Marie riding's provincial constituency office on Queen Street East. Kenneth Armstrong/SooToday

The president of the local Liberal riding association says the process of selecting a candidate in the yet-to-be-called provincial byelection is still moving forward, even as the popularity of Ontario’s premier is plummetting.

Richard Fiacconi, president of the Sault Ste. Marie Provincial Liberal Association, said the search for a local Liberal candidate to stand in an upcoming byelection continues.

“We are still searching and waiting on candidates. I know it’s moving into March and whatnot, but people need to find support and maybe have their own team,” said Fiacconi.

The byelection will be called by June 30 to replace former Liberal MPP David Orazietti, who stepped down from provincial politics at the end of December.

Today, a poll by Angus Reid Institute (ARI) showed support by Ontarians for Premier Kathleen Wynne, leader of the Liberal Party, has dropped to just 12 per cent.

Additionally, 75 per cent of Ontarians polled by ARI said their electricity bill is unreasonable and 82 per cent said they oppose the ongoing sale of shares in HydroOne to private investors.

77 per cent of those polled said their own household electricity bills will be a factor when deciding who to vote for in the 2018 election.

Fiacconi said he would like to see the byelection called sooner than later, but selection of a candidate will come first.

“I don’t think they would call a snap election on us,” said Fiacconi.

The potential Liberal candidates are being given time to consider running and Fiacconi said the association is waiting on their responses.

“I am not trying to call them everyday, it does take a little time to organize or decide on things,” he said.

After the association makes a selection, said Fiacconi, the party will complete their own vetting process.

Earlier this month, city councillor Matthew Shoemaker said he had decided not to seek a nomination for the byelection under the Liberal flag.

Fiacconi recognizes the longer it takes for the byelection to be called, the less time the eventual winning candidate for the riding will serve at Queen’s Park until the 2018 election.

“I know it could be only another year for the general election, but that is what we have and we’re trying to deal with that,” he said.

Ontario PC candidate Ross Romano and NDP candidate Joe Krmpotich have both said publicly that Kathleen Wynne should call the byelection in the near future.

The constituency office for Sault Ste. Marie riding, which was formerly occupied by Orazietti, moved today from its Great Northern Road location to a new office in the Paul Mall on Queen Street East and will reopen Tuesday.