NDP leader visits riding: “listen and learn”

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Has Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke suddenly become a battleground riding?

Following visits by several candidates in the Liberal leadership race earlier this summer, Ontario NDP leader Marit Stiles joined the fray this week, swinging through the riding on a one-day visit Monday.

Stiles became party leader earlier this year after Andrea Horwath stepped down following last year’s provincial election.

In a statement before Stiles’ visit, the local NDP riding association noted that her visit would mark a “significant occasion, as the last leader to visit the riding was Howard Hampton.”

“The presence of a party leader in the riding underscores the value placed on constituents’ voices and offers the leader an invaluable opportunity to engage directly with the concerns of the local community.”

Riding vice-president Kurt Stoll, who ran second to long-time MPP John Yakabuski in the last election, said that “having Marit Stiles coming to the riding shows that we made an impact in the last election and that Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke is important to the NDP.”

In fact, the NDP have overtaken the Liberals as the second choice of local voters in the last several elections, both federal and provincial.

So what would it take for them to break through and win?

In a telephone interview with the NRT between stops Monday, Stiles said what she is hearing from people here and in rural communities across the province is that “they really feel left behind by this government.”

“That the Conservatives who they supported for often many generations are not putting their interests at the front and are in fact prioritizing making wealthy developers wealthier,” she said…

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