Suzanne Shawbonquit says she is ready to "paint Sudbury orange" after being nominated on Sunday to run as the NDP candidate for Sudbury in the Feb. 5 byelection.
Her nomination makes her the first Aboriginal person in provincial politics to come from the Robinson-Huron Treaty area.
"You have no idea how amazing this is and we're making history today," she told about 300 people gathered at the United Steelworkers Hall in Sudbury to take part in the nomination vote.
Shawbonquit said she wants to bring a new kind of representation to Queen's Park — and get rid of what she calls the "old boys' club." She said she wants to focus on a number of issues, including aboriginal concerns and employment for young people.
"We're ready to get to work."
Shawbonquit has less than four weeks to convince voters that her party should hold power once again. The NDP's previous candidate, Joe Cimino, stepped down for personal reasons after only a few months on the job.
Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath opened the Sudbury nomination meeting Sunday saying "northerners deserve respect. This election is about electing an NDP MPP who respects the North."
Horwath noted the Feb. 5 byelection is about sending a message to Kathleen Wynne. She said Sudbury "will never be bullied or bought" and congratulated former Liberal candidate Andrew Olivier for running as an independent.
Olivier finished second in the June 12, 2014, election, 980 votes behind Cimino.
The Liberals have said they discussed ways Olivier could remain involved in the party, but did not offer him anything in return for stepping aside — although it has been alleged to be the case. The Progressive Conservatives asked the Ontario Provincial Police to look into Olivier's allegations and the NDP directed them to Elections Ontario.
Olivier announced last week — on his 36th birthday and a day that marked 21 years since a hockey accident left him a quadriplegic — that he would run in the byelection as an independent candidate.
Horwath takes aim at Liberals
During her remarks in Sudbury on Sunday, Horwath noted her party will focus on achievable, realistic goal — and said no place has more potential and has been as overlooked as Sudbury. Horwath took aim at the Liberals for cutting child care and refusing to bring a PET scanner to Sudbury.
And when she said her party believes in strong unions and collective bargaining, her comments drew loud cheers from the audience.
Shawbonquit was up against Dave Battaino and John Caruso for the nomination. Candidate Jesse Gaudet opted out of the race to support Shawbonquit instead.
In a previous interview with CBC News, Shawbonquit said, "There is a lot of expectations, I think, and a lot of responsibility,” she said. “But I'm ready for it."
Shawbonquit will face off in next month's election against the Greens' David Robinson, the PCs' Paula Peroni, and the Liberals' Glenn Thibeault.
Sudbury has been without a representative at Queen's Park for nearly two months.
Horwath will remain in Sudbury on Monday, when she's expected to hold community discussions at Tuco’s Taco Lounge on Kathleen Street, meet with local business owners at Old Rock on Minto Street, and then have lunch with Greater Sudbury Mayor Brian Bigger.
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