Parties fight hard for Sudbury as northern Ontario riding could be a toss-up

All eyes could be on the federal riding of Sudbury in our region this election as voters head to the polls without an incumbent on the ballot.

The riding has voted mostly Liberal since it was created but it's sent two New Democrats to Ottawa over the course of history, the most recent being Glenn Thibault.

With Member of Parliament Paul Lefebvre stepping down, former communications executive Viviane Lapointe is hoping to keep the seat Liberal red.

"The most important local issue for my campaign is to help our vulnerable populations. COVID clearly showed us how seniors in long-term care communities are vulnerable and need some protection. COVID also hit, some of our people living with addictions and homelessness were particularly hard hit by COVID and it's important that we have programs and financial help for these vulnerable populations. And finally, protecting our environment which also is our greatest economic opportunity. There is some great job creation in turning into a green economy," Lapointe said.

New Democrat candidate Nadia Verrelli said she's been seeing a lot of positive comments at the doors and is hoping to become the third NDP MP in the riding's history.

"There are a few important issues in Sudbury right now. Off the top of my head, housing affordability is a big issue. We're seeing a tent city. The opioid crisis is also important here in Sudbury. We, the NDP, have a plan for affordability in helping to lower rent and the cost of housing. Also, we're committed to building 500 homes, affordable homes, in the next 10 years," Verrelli said.

COVID-19 has certainly kept family doctor Ian Symington busy. He's currently running as the Conservative candidate in the riding. It's not a riding that has turned blue before but he believes he can change that.

"I think there are many issues. Health care is always number one for people, mental health and addictions is another one," Symington said. "Housing affordability, all those things are very important but I think the number one issue is making sure we get people back to work. We have an unemployment rate that's very high right now. We need to give people jobs so they feel good about themselves, they can make some money for their families and themselves, and more importantly, so they can contribute and get the economy rolling so they can actually fund all those issues that I mentioned in the first place, including climate change -- which is on the top of everyone's mind as well."

This will be the fourth time David Robinson has run for office. The Green Party candidate is a former Laurentian University professor who doesn't believe he'll win on election day.

However, he believes a vote for the Greens will help any government steer the discussion towards protecting the environment.

"The most important issue is the global issue. Sudbury is really vulnerable to climate change. Our forests are going to be destroyed by essentially bugs and fires. We're seeing it this year. Climate change is the big one, but if you want to get local and small, the one we're hearing most about is the university. And then you're seeing the feds, the province, and the city council just drop the ball. There are federal actions that can be taken in this case because it's a provincial jurisdiction. There's only so much room for the feds to do anything. The province will say 'give me money. We'll do what we want, that's what the constitution says.' What the feds can do is drop money into the mining research here. They can dump money into environmental research. They can dump money essentially into the new French-language university that I think the community needs. All three of those things are legitimate federal interventions," Robinson said.

Also running for the riding of Sudbury is the People's Party of Canada (PPC) candidate Colette Methé and rounding out the ballot is perennial candidate David Popescu who is once again running as an Independent. Popescu was sentenced to 30 days in jail following a second hate speech conviction earlier this year. He was found guilty of promoting hate against a marginalized group during the 2018 provincial election.

Advanced polls start this weekend and Sudburians will head to the polls on Sept. 20.

Sudbury has been Liberal red since 2015.