Catherine Fife acclaimed as NDP candidate


Catherine Fife speaks to supporters on Thursday after being declared the NDP candidate for the upcoming K-W byelection. (Photo by Nick Lachance)

After five years, Catherine Fife is getting her second shot at running for MPP of the Kitchener-Waterloo riding.

Announced at Thursday night’s K-W NDP nomination meeting, Fife has officially joined the race as the New Democrat candidate for the upcoming provincial byelection. Fife previously ran in the 2007 provincial election but lost to Elizabeth Witmer, the riding’s long-time Progressive Conservative MPP who unexpectedly quit last spring to be the chair of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB).

Fife was the only one who ran for the NDP candidacy.

“Witmer had a strong background and was supported by the community. People were interested and there was loyalty to Witmer at the time,” explained Fife, who has worked as a trustee and chair of the Waterloo Region District School Board as well as the president of the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association and the vice-president of the Canadian School Boards Association. She’ll have to take leaves from those positions to focus on her campaign.

“The loyalty to Witmer was profound but now we have a fresh start,” Fife added.

The meeting, which was held at Knox Presbyterian church in Uptown Waterloo, attracted NDP supporters from the community as well as the province. Numerous NDP MPPs attended, including Ontario New Democrat leader Andrea Horwath and Taras Natyshak, the MPP for the Essex riding.

Horwath, who has been visiting the K-W area quite frequently in recent months, shared with the crowd her experiences and work with Fife, and how Fife eventually got involved in politics.

“To elect somebody who has proven track record of being in touch with this community, being respectful of this community and working hard for this community and that’s Catherine Fife. Yes the bigger issues are there … but all politics are local and I’m very,very proud to have candidate at the caliber and quality of Catherine Fife,” Horwath told reporters after the meeting.

The decision by Witmer to step down as MPP triggered a byelection which could create a majority government for the Liberals if they capture the vacant seat.

“The McGuinty government does not deserve a majority government,” emphasized Fife. “Andrea and the NDP caucus have proven that minority governments can work in the best interests of the province.”

McGuinty has yet to call an election, but many expect him to call it in the fall when students from the surrounding universities move back to the community. Fife noted that the NDP has policies that are attractive for students.

“We have strong policies that support students, accessibility, and reducing debt loads for students,” she said, labeling the current system under the McGuinty government as “unsustainable.”

When asked about how the NDP will take a riding that has been traditionally Liberal and Conservative on both the provincial and federal level, Fife responded by saying, “I don’t think we have that far to go, I’m a moderate New Democrat who knows the community very well, socially and financially. The citizens in this riding, they want a person with experience … and who has worked with the honour and privilege of serving them in the community.”

The PCs have declared part-time Laurier business prof Tracey Weiler as their candidate and the Green Party announced that Stacey Danckert is theirs. Waterloo city councilor Karen Scian, Waterloo Regional Police Services Staff Sgt. Raj Sharma, and local lawyer Eric Davis are the candidates for the Liberal nomination.

The Liberals choose on Aug. 9.

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