With the passing Monday of the deadline to register, voters in Nickel Belt and Sudbury now know exactly who wants their vote as the Oct. 21 federal election draws near.
Nickel Belt, with about 72,100 people across a huge riding of 30,490 kilometres, has five candidates. Historically, the riding has gone either New Democrat or Liberal since it was created in 1953. Former mayor John Rodriguez held the Nickel Belt for the NDP from 1972-1980, and again from 1984-1993.
Liberal Judy Erola was elected from 1980-84, and Ray Bonin took the seat for the Grits from 1993-2008.
Incumbent Marc Serré won the seat in 2015 from New Democrat Claude Gravelle, who held the seat since 2008.
A look at the candidates this time around:
Marc G Serré, Liberal: The incumbent has a family history in politics – his uncle, Gaeten, held the riding for the Liberals from 1968-1972. He served as Parliamentary Secretary for Rural Economic Development in Justin Trudeau's government, and served as chair of the Liberal Rural Caucus and Chair of the Northern Ontario Liberal Caucus. Before federal politics, he was a school board trustee, municipal councillor in West Nipissing and was chair of that community's planning committee. You can reach his website here.
Stef Paquette, New Democrat: A first-time politician, Paquette is better known as a performer and musician, particularly in the francophone community. He is the son of a miner and a member of the United Steelworkers. He is currently the Cultural Mediator for Indigenous Education at the French public school board in Sudbury (CSPGNO). “He’s standing with the NDP to deliver services that make life better and more affordable, like universal pharmacare, affordable housing, and affordable, quality cellphone service and high speed broadband for all,” says a post on his campaign website.
Aino Laamanen, Conservative: Laamanen is running for the Nickel Belt seat for the second straight federal election. She was born in Finland and immigrated to Canada at age 10. Laamanen moved to the Sudbury area in 1967 to work in an accounting firm. While raising a family, she helped establish and co-manage a construction company, and earned an honours degree in religious studies and philosophy at Laurentian University. She has volunteered with Big Sisters of Sudbury, Canadian Red Cross, Sudbury Theatre Centre, Finlandia Village, the Sudbury Soils Study and Sunday school. More information can be found on here website.
Casey Lalonde, Green Party: The Laurentian University student is making her third run for the Greens, following campaigns in 2014 and 2018. A Masters student at LU, the Sudbury born and raised Lalonde says she is passionate about mental health issues, as well as the state of our environment. “Casey is running for the Green Party of Canada because she is deeply concerned about the current state of the world,” says a post on her website. “She worries about what the future will hold for future generations if we do not begin to take meaningful action on climate change. However, Casey is optimistic and believes that Canada can shift towards renewable energy sources and a sustainable economy.”
Mikko Paavola, Peoples Party of Canada: Born and raised in the Sudbury area, Paavola graduated from Lively High School and received a BA in business administration from Nipissing University. He worked as a supervisor at Loeb in Sudbury until it closed, and then entered a retraining program and earned a electrical engineering technician diploma, and became a Red Seal Electrician designation in Alberta. “Mikko is confident that the PPC is the best vehicle to raise the Nickel Belt’s economy to the next level,” says his campaign website. “In that spirit, his primary goal is to not be outworked ensuring that the Nickel Belt’s concerns are provided a strong voice in Ottawa.”
Next: candidates in Sudbury.