OTTAWA – THUNDER BAY – This past Thursday Ontario opted for change – somewhat. I think that is the conclusion that most analysts came to on election night as Dalton McGuinty’s Liberals won their third election in a row, but were reduced to a minority government.
First off, I would like to thank all those who voted and congratulate all of the candidates across the province that chose to put their name on the ballot and campaigned for months leading into Election Day. The work they put in, even if the results weren’t to their liking, was worth it. Democracy wins when quality people put their name on the ballot, and this was a great year for democracy in Canada.
So why did the Liberals win, and why did they receive a minority mandate instead of a majority? It’s tough to say, but on the first question I think an argument could be made that a lot of people are reasonably happy with the current state of affairs in the province and aren’t hungering for change at this point in time. On the second question, it would appear that more and more people are growing dissatisfied with a government which, after two full majority mandates, has lost touch with the people to a degree.
In Northwestern Ontario the status quo was reinforced. Sarah Campbell held Kenora Rainy River for the New Democrats after the retirement of long-time MPP Howard Hampton chose not to offer again. Howard’s shoes will be hard if not impossible to fill, but Sarah has taken her first big step forward. Surviving the debates, finding a place of her own in a tough field, and knocking on thousands of doors she has made the riding hers now. I know Howard is proud and I am as well Sarah. Congrats on a hard fought victory!
In Thunder Bay – Atikokan and Thunder Bay – Superior North Bill Mauro and Michael Gravelle must also be congratulated for their strong campaigns and victories. After two terms in government, and some very strong campaigns waged against them by their New Democrat and Conservatives opponents, Bill and Michael were able to hold onto their seats. This was no small feat and the two veterans should be congratulated for their significant victories.
The caliber of opponents faced by Bill and Michael in the two Thunder Bay ridings was tremendous and the fields were among the strongest in Ontario in my opinion. Fred Gilbert and Anthony Leblanc decided to dip their toes into water of electoral politics for the first time after distinguished careers in public and private life. They have had many accomplishments in their professional careers and should be proud of the efforts that they put forward while carrying the PC banner.
As for the two Thunder Bay New Democrats, I am very, very proud of the months of hard work they put in. I believe that Mary Kozorys in Thunder Bay – Atikokan and Steve Mantis in Thunder Bay – Superior North fought tough, principled, and clean battles against strong incumbents. I would love to see both rookie candidates, both of whom came very close to pulling off upsets in their respective ridings, continue to work hard and get their names out in the public in preparation for another run in four years time. Mary and Steve have tremendous potential and I know firsthand that their work ethic is second to none. Hard work does pay off in the end folks, trust me.
So with that the people of Ontario and Northwestern Ontario have spoken. Mr. McGuinty has had his leash yanked by the electorate and New Democrats across the province are ready to ensure that the Liberal government is more responsive to the needs of families. If McGuinty wants to raise taxes he will now need to explain why, by how much, and for how long. If he wants to trim services or run huge deficits again as he has for the past 5 years then he will need to demonstrate that it is absolutely necessary and in the best interests of families across the province. Of course that is the way it should have been all along.
In the end, the people are always right.
John Rafferty MP
Thunder Bay Rainy River