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Byelections in Milton and Lambton—Kent—Middlesex called for May 2

Two seats held by former Tory cabinet ministers are up for grabs in the first contest under Liberal leader Bonnie Crombie
Voters in Scarborough—Guildwood go to the polls for a provincial byelection to replace former education minister Mitzie Hunter.

And we're off.

Voters in Milton and Lambton—Kent—Middlesex will head to the polls on May 2 to replace two former Tory ministers.

It's the first time new Liberal Leader Bonnie Crombie will face an electoral test as her party tries to regain its footing after two disastrous general election results in 2018 and 2022. The Tories are also looking to regain some mojo. They lost two byelection to the Liberals last summer in Ottawa and Scarborough, giving the third party some wind in its tattered sails.

Milton will be particularly interesting as the riding borders her former stomping grounds of Mississauga, where she served as mayor for a decade. Crombie toyed with running but ultimately chose to sit it out in favour of continuing to tour the province and build up her party's war chest.

The GTA riding was represented by former red tape reduction minister Parm Gill from 2018 until his resignation — first reported by The Trillium — in late January.

Gill won a resounding 12-point victory in 2018 but the Liberals closed the gap in the 2022 election to just under five points as the NDP vote collapsed.

This time around the Tories won't benefit from the incumbency advantage. Their candidate, Zee Hamid, was a local city councillor. He's also a former Liberal. Hamid donated to the provincial party and tried to run under the federal party's banner in the 2015 election.

The Liberals are running Galen Naidoo Harris who worked for federal Liberal MP Adam van Koeverden’s office in Milton and was the constituency manager for Liberal MP Charles Sousa’s Mississauga—Lakeshore office.

The NDP candidate is Edie Strachan, a regional vice president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union. She also served as the federal NDP riding association president.

Party stalwart Kyle Hutton is running for Mike Schreiner’s Greens.

The Ford government's 2024 budget featured some Milton-related goodies, including promises to move forward with a plan to provide two-way, all-day GO service to the town, while bringing back two daily weekday GO train trips in the interim.

Highway 413, a centrepiece of the Ford government's agenda, would also reach the riding’s east end, connecting it to Peel and York regions.

Lambton—Kent—Middlesex appears to be safer grounds for a Tory reelection bid.

It's been blue since former labour minister Monte McNaughton won the riding in a 2011 byelection. He won the riding by wide margins in 2014, 2018 and 2022. In the latter two contests, he got upwards of 55 per cent of the vote. The NDP candidates were runners-up in each of McNaughton's general election victories. The Liberals didn't get more than 10 per cent of the vote in either 2018 or 2022.

The federal Conservatives have held the riding since 2006.

McNaughton was one of Ford's most important ministers. He was credited with bringing private sector labour unions to the Tory fold after the party warred with labour for years.

He resigned from cabinet on Sept. 22 to join the private sector, the day after Ford reversed course on the Greenbelt land swap. McNaughton said his decision had nothing to do with the scandal.

The Tories are running Steve Pinsonneault, a longtime councillor in Chatham-Kent.

Last week, Education Minister Stephen Lecce visited Strathroy to announce that the government approved $45.6 million in funding to help build two new elementary schools in the riding.

The Liberal candidate is Lucan-Biddulph Mayor Cathy Burghardt-Jesson, who also served as warden of Middlesex County.

The NDP’s candidate in the riding is Kathryn Shailer, who spent much of her career in academia.

The Green party candidate is Andraena Tilgner, a respiratory therapist who works in London, Ont., which neighbours the riding.

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