A former MuchMusic VJ wants to help the NDP grab the riding of Toronto Centre from the Liberal Party.
Former television journalist and host Jennifer Hollett has announced that she will formally enter the race for the NDP nomination on Wednesday, hoping to be selected as the party's official candidate in the by-election to choose Bob Rae's successor. The NDP has yet to announce the date of the nomination meeting where it will select its candidate, but it is expected to be held around Labour Day.
No NDP or Liberal candidate has yet to formally enter the race, according to party officials. Still, a number of supporters of the parties have publicly mused about running in the riding that is expected to be the theatre of a two-way race when the by-election is officially called.
Toronto Centre is usually described as a Liberal stronghold, but Ms. Hollett is betting that it is actually dominated by NDP values. She points out that Mr. Rae was a New Democrat before becoming a Liberal, adding that the local city councillors are more aligned with the NDP.
"This will be a competitive race," she said in an interview. "There were lots of NDP voters in Toronto Centre who voted for Bob Rae because they liked Bob Rae."
This will be Ms. Hollett's first foray into active politics, which she covered for the all-music channel as well as the CBC. She said she was drawn to the NDP by its former leader, Jack Layton, who died shortly after the 2011 election.
"In that moment, I thought, 'I need to do two things: buy a membership and consider running in an upcoming election for the NDP,'" she said.
After leaving journalism, Ms. Hollett earned a master's degree in public administration at Harvard, and recently moved back to Toronto Centre. She helped to organize a brunch during the recent Pride celebrations in the riding with NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair, hoping to help him get acquainted with the city. While Mr. Layton was a fixture in Toronto politics, Mr. Mulcair remains better known in his home base of Quebec.
"He's not from Toronto, and Toronto Centre residents are still getting to know him," she said. "But they'll get to know him."
Ms. Hollett, 37, said she agrees that Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau has "brought new energy to the party," but she added that she wants to work on issues such as housing and growing income inequality as part of Mr. Mulcair's team.
"My values and interests have always been with the NDP and I think the Liberals have a lot of work ahead of them," she said.
The Prime Minister has to call three by-elections in the coming months. In addition to Toronto Centre, there are vacancies in the Montreal riding of Bourassa, which was held by former Liberal MP Denis Coderre, and the Manitoba riding of Provencher, which was recently vacated by former Conservative MP Vic Toews.
There is speculation in Ottawa that the by-elections will be called after the municipal elections in Quebec, which would mean a vote at the end of the year. The Conservatives will be favoured to keep Mr. Toews's old riding, while the Liberals and NDP are both vying for the Toronto Centre and Bourassa seats.