THUNDER BAY – Politics – Kathleen Wynne’s minority Liberals have been handed a setback. The Liberals lost both by-elections in southern Ontario tonight. In Thornhill, the Progressive Conservatives won the seat and in Niagara Falls, the New Democrats won.
The triumphs Thursday by the PCs and NDP could be the final impetus that may lead to a vote against the Ontario Liberal budget later this year. If that happens, Ontario will move to an election.
Kathleen Wynne’s government remains in a minority. The PCs held the seat that former MPP Peter Shurman held. over the commonplace plan wanted in late March or early April, triggering a spring race.
In Thornhill, which had been held by Progressive Conservative Peter Shurman, Tory Gila Martow, an optometrist, crushed Liberal Sandra Yeung Racco, a neighborhood councillor and wife of previous Grit MPP Mario Racco. The NDP’s Cindy Hackelberg was third emulated by the Green Party’s Teresa Pun.
With 254 of 280 surveys reporting, Martow had 48.3 for every penny to 40.6 for every penny for Yeung Racco, 7.1 for every penny for Hackelberg and 1.5 for every penny for Pun.
“Whoopee, we did it!” said Honey Apter, a supporter who went to Martow’s decision party Thursday night a dinner corridor close Dufferin and Centre Sts.
Leader Stephen Harper’s visit to Israel a month ago was seen, in the riding as a real booster to the Tories’ fortunes. The riding has a large Jewish population with about forty per cent of the population.
Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, and Employment Minister Jason Kenney, were campaign assistants who earnestly battled for Martow, which is also seen to have made a difference by the pundits.
New Democrat Wayne Gates, a city councillor, and president of Unifor Local 199, won the seat that had been held for ten years by Liberal Kim Craitor.
Gates fought off Tory Bart Maves, a local councillor and two-term PC MPP until Craitor beat him in 2003.
Surveys had proposed Gates might win in a landslide, yet Maves kept it close as numerous Liberal voters seemed to rally to the Tories to stop the NDP. If that trend holds into the wider voting patterns province wide, the Liberals could be in serious trouble.
Premier Wynne made just over $100 million in campaign promises in the by-election campaign. These promises included a five-year, $75-million wine industry promise, and initial money for a new hospital. However those promises did not seem to help, Liberal candidate Joyce Morocco, a city councillor, finished a distant third.