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(Posted 8 a.m., May 9)
Local Liberal candidate kicks off campaign with the hope of succeeding exiting MPP

By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

Ottawa-Orléans provincial Liberal candidate Marie-France Lalonde addresses her supporters during her campaign kick-off Thursday night as the current incumbent Phil McNeely looks on. Fred Sherwn/Photo

Local Liberal candidate Marie-France Lalonde has a tough act to follow. Not only has Phil McNeely served the riding of Ottawa-Orléans for nearly a decade, he's never lost an election going back to when he was first elected to Ottawa city council in 2000.

She began her campaign to succees McNeely shortly after she won the nomination in December. Since then she's attended dozens of events and met hundreds of people in anticipation of a possible spring election. Now spring is upon us and so is an election, and Lalonde can hardly wait to get started.

The former social worker and seniors care provider, officially kicked off her campaign with nearly 100 enthusiastic supporters at her campaign office on Jeanne d'Arc Blvd. Thursday night and her message was clear -- she wants to put her 17 years of experience as both a community leader and successful business woman to work for the residents of Ottawa-Orléans.

"I want to continue to build on the successes we've achieved over the past 10 years in the areas of health care, education and economic development," Lalonde told her supporters. "I want to champion our jobs and our infrastructure. I want to be your champion, your defender and your representative."

If elected, Lalonde says her top priority will be the Orléans Family Health Hub, which has been stalled for over a year while waiting for approval from the Ministry of Health.

"It is the number one priority," she said, "and I believe it will come to realization."

Lalonde also wants to ensure the province kicks in its share of the funding for the Ottawa River Action Plan, about $65 million, and is ready to step to the plate to fund Phase II of the LRT project. She also strongly believes in creating more jobs in the east end and she wants to ensure that the Environmental Assessment currently being done on Hwy. 174 is completed and acted upon.

The 42-year-old Lalonde is being challenged by Conservative candidate Andrew Lister who is hoping the second time is the charm after losing to McNeely in the last provincial election. The lawyer and father of two opened his campaign headquarters last Saturday, and like Lalonde he is looking forward to hitting the hustings and seeing what the next four weeks has instore.

(This story was made possible thanks to their generous support of our local business partners.)

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