Election Night in Thunder Bay Promises Excitement


Ontario VotesTHUNDER BAY – In less than a week, Ontarians will know the results of the 2011 Provincial Election. Depending on which poll you might choose, the Liberals or the Progressive Conservatives are leading. The New Democrats are in third place but based on a strong performance in the Leaders’ Debate on Tuesday, it is also showing that the New Democrats are rallying.

Looking at the two Thunder Bay ridings, it is really hard to tell from the outside what the results might be. One of the early polls showed that the Liberals were behind in Northern Ontario, but honestly the numbers of those surveyed were quite small.

One of the factors may be the latest Environics Research Group poll showing that 63 per cent of respondents think that the incumbent Liberals have been in power long enough.

In the last week before the election pollsters will be working almost as hard as candidates to get the right results once the votes are counted.

The latest poll, by Forum Research is showing the NDP surging in Thunder Bay Atikokan. In Thunder Bay Superior North it is showing the Progressive Conservatives at 25%, a massive increase from their 2007 results.

The Liberals and New Democrats neck in neck in Thunder Bay Superior North.

In Thunder Bay Atikokan, Liberal incumbent Bill Mauro has stepped up his campaign and is defending his record. Mauro faces a challenge from Fred Gilbert and Mary Kozory. Mauro won the riding four years ago over NDP challenger John Rafferty in the tightest race in region in years, a slim fifty votes separated the two after all the dust

In 2003, Mauro won the riding with 58.25% of the vote, in 2007 his percentage had dropped to 37.69%.

For the Progressive Conservatives, their polling numbers are up from 2007, if the Forum Research numbers hold up. Gilbert is six points ahead of where then PC candidate Rebecca Johnson finished.

Michael Gravelle BillboardIn Thunder Bay Superior North, Michael Gravelle has seen his margin of victory drop over the past two elections. In 2003 Gravelle won the seat with 72.45% of the vote, that number was 46.79% in 2007.

The Forum Research Poll shows Gravelle at 35%.

Anthony LeBlanc is showing a stronger showing than the last PC candidate Scott Hobbs. Hobbs garnered 9.78 percent of the vote, LeBlanc has almost tripled the support so far in this campaign. Traditionally, the Progressive Conservatives have garnered about 10 per cent in the vote count in Thunder Bay Superior North over the last couple of elections.

The last week of the campaign is likely to bring out all the ammunition each side has to go after each other.

In Thunder Bay Superior North, the race appears, according to the Forum Research Poll, to be too close to call. Minister of Northern Development Mines and Forestry Michael Gravelle appears in the political race of his life.

It could be that the decision by Liberal leader and Premier Dalton McGuinty to not show up at the Northern Leaders’ Debate a week ago could be a factor in the polling numbers for both ridings.

The New Democrats and Conservatives alike pounded on the Premier for that decision.

Although the Thunder Bay Superior North poll shows that Gravelle’s support is staying put, the popular MPP is also running his campaign, it could be argued, on his own popularity rather than on the popularity of his party or leader.

While McGuinty’s efforts across the province have led to the Liberals moving up in the polls, should Gravelle lose on October 6th, it might be that the reason were the campaign decisions not to attend the Northern Leaders Debate by Dalton McGuinty, and the decisison by Gravelle’s campaign not to feature the Liberals atop their campaign.

Election night promises to be interesting in Thunder Bay. Stay tuned.

James Murray

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