Del Duca promises to pass Our London Family Act during London North Centre campaign stop

For the second time in under a week, a major Ontario political party leader has paid a visit to London North Centre, which is expected to be the city’s most hotly-contested riding.

Ontario Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca arrived at the door step of a north London home on Wednesday evening to campaign for the party’s London North Centre candidate Kate Graham.

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The two were joined by Vanessa Lalonde, the Liberal candidate for London West, and Zeba Hashmi, the Liberal candidate for London-Fanshawe, during a backyard rally attended by dozens of supporters.

“Over the past few years, it has been the honour of a lifetime to work so closely with Kate Graham,” Del Duca told the small crowd of supporters.

“That forward-looking and fair and fully-costed election platform … would not have been possible if it wasn’t for Kate Graham’s leadership and her contribution, and I want to publicly thank her for serving as a co-chair of our platform process.”

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Both Graham and Del Duca spoke to media during the rally, where the Ontario Liberal party leader was asked again about allegations raised by the Ontario NDP that the Liberal candidate in Chatham-Kent-Leamington was fraudulently registered for next month’s election.

The NDP allege that the Liberal candidate in the riding was nominated using signatures gathered in support of a dropped candidate.

Del Duca said it was “deeply disappointing” to see the New Democrats engage in “desperate tactics” with just over two weeks before the June 2 election.

“In the meantime, Ontario Liberals will be focused on what people here in London and in Chatham-Kent-Leamington and right across Ontario need, which is real progress. We’re taking the fight to the Ford Conservatives. We’ll let the NDP keep playing their games.”

When asked if the signatures used to nominate Chatham-Kent-Leamington candidate Audrey Festeryga were fraudulent, Del Duca said “we’re going to let Elections Ontario do what they’re supposed to do.”

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Along with reiterating various policies from his party’s costed platform, Del Duca also promised to pass the Our London Family Act if the Liberals are elected.

Tabled by the Ontario NDP in February, the bill was developed in honour of the four members of the Afzaal family who died during last June’s targeted vehicle attack in northwest London.

The legislation would have established a provincial review of hate crimes and hate-motivated incidents in Ontario, while also designating safe zones around houses of worship, preventing white supremacist groups from registering as societies and establishing an anti-racism council to provide input on government policies.

It was created with the National Council of Canadian Muslims and follows recommendations put forward by that organization.

“This is not about partisanship, this is not about one leader or party trying to take credit for what a community organization worked so hard to deliver on,” Del Duca said.

“Deeply, deeply disappointing that despite the fact that they had a majority in the legislature and had months to be ready for this that the Ford Conservatives chose to not get this legislation passed.”

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Graham, who’s making her second consecutive run at representing London North Centre, added that she feels hopeful about her campaign.

“Last time it felt very different, this time when people are angry, they’re angry at Ford,” Graham said.

“If you talk to a teacher, if you talk to a PSW, if you talk to a parent whose got a child in daycare as I do, who have been waiting for real change, they are eager for a change in government and they know that London North Centre can be a part of that.”

Graham faces incumbent NDP candidate Terence Kernaghan, PC candidate Jerry Pribil and returning Green Party of Ontario candidate Carol Dyck in the fight for London North Centre.

— With files from The Canadian Press’ Holly McKenzie-Sutter and Nicole Thompson.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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