Catherine Fife, a trustee and chair of the Waterloo Region District School Board, will be seeking the NDP nomination in the Kitchener-Waterloo riding.

She made the announcement at a meeting in Waterloo’s Public Square on Thursday morning, saying she will take an unpaid leave from the board.

The seat opened up in April when long-time PC MPP Elizabeth Witmer accepted a position with the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board.

The provincial byelection in the riding has not yet been called, but will be pivotal as a Liberal victory could give the party a majority in the Ontario legislature.

Fife has been a school trustee since 2003, but said in a press release her reason for running is “both a real concern about the direction of this province and an interest in providing strong representation for Kitchener-Waterloo at Queen’s Park.”

Fife is the first to file nomination papers with the party and the NDP nomination meeting is planned for July 26.

Tracey Weiler, the candidate for the Progressive Conservative Party, was selected in June. The candidate for the Green Party is Stacey Danckert, while Allan Detweiller will run for the Libertarians.

The Liberals have three people in the running to become their candidate, city councillor Karen Scian, Waterloo Regional Police Staff Sgt. Raj Sharma and lawyer Eric Davis.

Teacher negotiations at standstill

Fife’s decision comes at a time when negotiations between the Liberal government and teachers’ unions are at a standstill.

While the English Catholic elementary teachers reached a deal last week, four other unions are standing together saying they won’t accept the same deal.

And Fife has been quick to voice her opinion on what she sees as the biggest provincial issue right now, getting deals with the unions representing public, high school and French teachers.

“It would be a shame to lose the stability that we’ve all worked so hard for in education and yet the process has clearly been flawed.”

Fife expects education will be key in the race to replace Witmer.

“We need people at the table who are informed and committed to making a difference,” she says.

At her announcement, Fife pointed out that the senior advisor on labour relations to the Minister of Education resigned this morning.