Coronavirus response in Ottawa throws Cumberland byelection date in the air

The outbreak of the novel coronavirus has thrown the timing of a proposed municipal byelection in Ottawa’s Cumberland ward up in the air.

The east-end ward’s former city councillor, Stephen Blais, resigned earlier in March after he was elected to the Ontario legislature.

In late February, city clerk Rick O’Connor proposed that Ottawa city council opt to replace Blais through a byelection, preferably called for June 8.

However, the city’s focus now is on its response to the spread of COVID-19 in the national capital.

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On top of that, byelections involve door-to-door campaigns and group events and health officials are demanding people stay home and away from other people to curb transmission of the virus.

“Under the current pandemic, I do not believe that the integrity of the byelection as I had suggested earlier … would be viable at this point in time,” O’Connor said during Ottawa city council’s virtual meeting on Wednesday.

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