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(Posted 5:30 a.m., June 12)
Local provincial races too close to call
By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak addresses reporters about his position on funding Ottawa's future transportation needs including Phase 2 of the LRT. Fred Sherwin/Photo

As area voters head to the polls to cast their ballots in the provincial election today, the two local races remain too close to call as the Conservative and Liberal candidates hope to capture the ridings for their respective parties.

In Ottawa-Orléans, Liberal candidate Marie-France Lalonde is hoping to retain the seat currently held by Phil McNeely who is retiring after 10 years at Queen's Park. Her opponent, Andrew Lister, is hoping to win the riding for the Conservatives.

Lister is a lawyer who ran against McNeely in the last election and lost. He's hoping for a different result this time around.

The key issues in the riding are Hwy. 174 and the future of Ottawa's light rail project.

The Conservatives have pledged to upload Hwy. 174 to the province within the first 100 days they're in office. Lalonde says the highway will eventually be uploaded to the province when the current Environmental Assessment is complete on the future widening of the highway from the split to Rockland.

The future of Ottawa's light rail project has been a lightning road issue in the final days of the campaign. Conservative leader Tim Hudak original said their was no money for Phase 2 of the project which would see light rail extended from Gloucester Centre to Place d'Orléans by 2023. He has since back-tracked on his original statement, saying that Ottawa would get it's fair share of transportation funding once the budget is balanced.

Another issue that got a great deal of play in the east end is the future Orleans Health Hub. The Liberals are saying the project is still on track, but they are warning it will be in jeopardy should the Conservatives get elected and abolish the province's local health integration networks, or LHINs. The Champlain LHIN is leading the way on planning the proposed Health Hub.

Lister says the health hub will remain a priority should he get elected, and that the Liberals have been dragging their feet for years on it.

Further east in Glengarry-Prescott-Russell, Liberal incumbent Grant Crack is being seriously challenged by Conservative hopeful Roxanne Villeneuve-Robertson, the daughter of former Conservative MPP Noble Villeneuve.

Many observers note that Crack won the riding in 2012 with the help of former MPP Jean-Marc Lalonde. Lalonde has not gotten involved this time around.

Both races in Ottawa-Orleans and Glengarry-Prescott-Russell will likely come down to voter turnout and which candidate is more successful in getting their supporters to the ballot box.

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

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