With health care worker Marlene Rivier as the NDP candidate for Ottawa West Nepean, the number of people in the riding voting NDP has quadrupled over the past four elections. During a packed nomination meeting at the Ukrainian Hall on Byron Street on Aug. 25, members of the party once again chose Rivier as their candidate.
“We are now so well placed to win this riding,” Rivier told the crowd of hundreds during the meeting. “It’s an open seat and the Liberal and Conservative candidates do not have a national profile. The Liberal vote is in decline, while the NDP vote is trending upwards.”
A mental health worker at the Royal Ottawa, Rivier is an active member of her union, and longtime volunteer with social justice organizations such as the Ontario Health Care Coalition and the anti-poverty group Acorn, Rivier won the contested nomination after a passionate and personal speech.
“On behalf of those for whom I advocate, I’ve cultivated the fine art of compromise, lest all be lost. And I’ve learned to discern when it’s time to stand my ground when there is no compromise to be found,” Rivier told the crowd. “A CEO once tried to intimidate me, but concluded, ‘You’re not afraid of me, are you?’ And then he tried to recruit me onto his team.”
With her long history of community activism, Rivier is well known from one end of the riding to the other, and is focused on convincing a range of people to vote NDP for the first time.
“After the Pride Parade, I was standing in the NDP tent and a resident of the riding approached me,” Rivier said during her speech. “He said, ‘You know I’m a true-blue Tory, Marlene. But I like your leader and I’m looking for a reason to vote NDP. If you win the nomination, you’ll be that reason.’”
Rivier says she’ll earn peoples’ votes the same way that she earned her votes during the nomination process: by showing that grassroots politics can work.
“We wanted to show that it’s not always about the money,” she said during her acceptance speech. “We showed that we can do this by making that personal connection with people to build the kind of grassroots movement we need to win this riding.”