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Yasir Naqvi enters Ontario Liberal leadership race

Ottawa MP Yasir Naqvi stepped down from his role as a parliamentary secretary in order to run for leadership of the provincial Liberals. Naqvi rises during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Friday, Dec. 9, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang Ottawa MP Yasir Naqvi stepped down from his role as a parliamentary secretary in order to run for leadership of the provincial Liberals. Naqvi rises during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Friday, Dec. 9, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Yasir Naqvi has entered the race for the Ontario Liberal leadership.

The Ottawa Centre Liberal MP formally launched his leadership campaign at St. Anthony's Banquet Hall in Ottawa Saturday morning. He also says he will make a stop in Belleville before an event in Mississauga Saturday evening.

Naqvi, who previously served as Ottawa Centre Liberal MPP, submitted his paperwork to enter the leadership race on Friday.

"Over the past few months, I’ve been asked again and again: why am I doing this? It's the same reason I started knocking on doors in Ontario 15 years ago and haven’t stopped since. Because the status quo isn’t good enough," Naqvi said in a statement on Saturday.

"I see the promise of Ontario slipping away. And Doug Ford has broken that promise."

Naqvi says his vision for the Ontario Liberal Party is to create a "strong" party, with a "big tent and a focus on its members not insiders."

"My mission is to transform our party, in every single riding, all 124. So we can stop Ford in 2026 — and get back to the promise of Ontario," he said.

The Ontario Liberal Party will announce a new leader on Dec. 2 to replace Steven Del Duca, who resigned after last June's provincial election.

Naqvi said in January he was considering running for the Ontario Liberal leadership.

"As you know, we have had two very devastating election results and there is a strong desire to have a strong, experienced leader who can help rebuild the party," Naqvi said in January.

In March, he stepped down as Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the King's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Emergency Preparedness.

Naqvi represented the riding of Ottawa Centre as an MPP from 2007 to 2018, before losing to NDP MPP Joel Harden in the 2018 provincial election. He served as attorney general, government house leader, minister of community safety and correctional services and minister of labour when the Liberal Party formed government. 

He was elected Ottawa Centre MP in 2021, succeeding former cabinet minister Catherine McKenna.

Two other candidates are registered to run for the Ontario Liberal leadership – Kingston and the Islands MPP Ted Hsu and Liberal MP Nate Erskine-Smith.

Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie has set up a leadership exploratory committee ahead of a possible run for the Liberal leadership.

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