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Former Mississauga MP Bonnie Crombie to contest Ward 5 by-election

Former Mississauga-Streetsville Liberal MP Bonnie Crombie announced that she would run in Mississauga's Ward 5 by-election in Mississauga, Ontario.

Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail/Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail

A second former Liberal MP has charged into the battle for an empty Mississauga city council seat, ratcheting up the pressure in a contest that will now pit one of Mayor Hazel McCallion's associates against her highest-profile critic.

Bonnie Crombie, who spent one term in Parliament before her defeat in the last federal election, on Thursday joined a field of 26 candidates vying to represent north-end Ward 5, vacant since Eve Adams was elected to the House of Commons in May.

Already running is Carolyn Parrish, who hopes to return to politics after she was defeated in her re-election attempt last year in a different ward.

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Ms. Parrish served on Parliament Hill for more than 12 years, and became known during her four years in municipal politics for helping call a judicial probe into a land deal in which Ms. McCallion was involved.

Ms. Crombie, by contrast, is close to the city's long-time leader, who backed her during the federal vote this spring.

While the 51-year-old said she was not expecting an endorsement from Ms. McCallion this time, she made veiled references to Ms. Parrish and her council allies.

"I will work constructively and positively with our mayor and all members of council," she said at a news conference near City Hall. "I want to provide an alternative to the divisive council practices of the past."

The words were similar to those the mayor often uses in reference to her opponents, who have countered they are simply bringing democratic debate to city hall.

Ms. Crombie also outlined specific pledges, including vows to build a long-delayed health centre in Ward 5, and installing a bus rapid transit route along Hurontario Street.

Ms. Parrish has campaigned largely on her long political record, including her role in securing federal stimulus money for city infrastructure.

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Such bread-and-butter concerns may play a big part in the election: one expert on Mississauga politics said the vote will likely hinge on pavement-pounding campaigning in the diverse ward.

"It will require a multi-lingual campaign team going door to door and listening to the concerns," said Tom Urbaniak, a political scientist at Cape Breton University. "This election will be fought in the trenches."

The army of candidates includes several other notable names, including Jake Dheer, a Rogers TV station manager and volunteer organizer at several charitable groups who was named the city's citizen of the year in 2005. Also running are Tory party strategist Peter Adams, Ms. Adams' husband, and both of the area's school trustees.

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