Ontario has a new government and Glengarry-Prescott-Russell has a new Member of Provincial Parliament. Progressive Conservative candidate Amanda Simard won the election locally on Thursday night, reflecting the province-wide victory by the PC’s led by Doug Ford, who will be Ontario’s next Premier. As of 1 a.m. on Friday, Elections Ontario reported that the results were in from every polling station in the riding. Simard was elected with 19,958 votes, or 41% of the popular vote. She won with a 4,523-vote margin over Liberal candidate Pierre Leroux who received 15,435 votes or 31.7% of the popular vote. NDP candidate Bonnie Jean-Louis finished third with 10,612 votes which made up 21.8% of the popular vote. Daniel Reid of the Green Party placed a distant fourth, followed by Joël Charbonneau of the Ontario Party and Libertarian candidate Darcy Neal Donnelly. There were 85,576 registered voters on the list in Glengarry-Prescott-Russell and the turnout was 57%.
“Make life more affordable,” is what Amanda Simard said her first priority would be as the riding’s new MPP. She said her victory and her campaign were about hydro rates, lower taxes, accountability for government, and health care.
“I’m very impressed and proud of the work we’ve done,” said Simard, who thanked her campaign staff and volunteers who had crowded into the cramped campaign headquarters on Notre Dame Street in Embrun.
“We felt a lot of support at the door. That’s the best poll you can get—at the door,” she said, crediting her door-to-door canvassing as the strategy that led to her victory. The PC candidate had faced some criticism for her lack of visibility at public events during the campaign, especially for not attending all-candidates meetings and gatherings in communities throughout the riding.
“Our focus was on the ground,” Ms. Simard said, emphasizing that she chose to focus on door-to-door, person-to-person interaction to connect with voters. As the new MPP for a majority francophone riding in majority anglophone Ontario, Simard assured francophone residents she is committed to their interests and thanked them for her confidence in her.
Simard is a lifelong resident of Glengarry-Prescott-Russell and is fluently bilingual. She earned a Juris Doctor (law) degree from the University of Ottawa and has past experience working on Parliament Hill, including as a policy advisor.
Amanda Simard’s victory will leave a vacant seat on Russell Township council, where she has served since 2014. Liberal runner-up Pierre Leroux is also the municipality’s mayor. At his much more subdued campaign event at the Embrun Community Centre, he said he intends to seek re-election for the mayor’s position in the fall.
“I’ve still got a great job,” said Leroux. “There was a wave over the province; Glengarry-Prescott-Russell was no different,” he said about the provincial election results. Leroux did say it was a challenge during the campaign to defend the record of Premier Kathleen Wynne’s Liberal government, even though he had not served in it. Incumbent Liberal MPP Grant Crack had decided not to seek re-election.
The defeat of the Wynne Liberal government in Ontario means the loss of a major ally of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the federal Liberal government. Glengarry-Prescott-Russell Liberal Member of Parliament Francis Drouin said on Thursday night in Embrun that he hopes the change to PC representation locally does not lead to any difficulties in cooperation between the provincial and federal levels of government.
“There has to be no partisanship at the local level in order to work together,” said Drouin.
Provincially, the Progressive Conservatives led by Doug Ford received over 2.3 million votes, making up 40.5% of the popular vote and giving it 76 seats to form a majority government. The New Democratic Party led by Andrea Horwath will form the Official Opposition. It received 1.9 million votes and 33.6% of the popular vote and 40 seats. The last time the NDP formed the Official Opposition was from 1975 to 1977 under Stephen Lewis. The Liberals under Kathleen Wynne got 1.1 million votes, 19.6% of the popular vote, and 7 seats—one shy of the 8 required to retain official party status in the legislature, and the party’s worst showing since Confederation. History was made for the Green Party whose leader Mike Schreiner was elected in Guelph, giving the Greens their first seat in the Ontario Legislature.