Writ­ing was on the wall

The Glengarry News - - The Opinion Page - STEVEN WARBURTON

Like much of the prov­ince’s me­dia, Glen­garry News Edi­tor Steven Warburton had a busy night on Thurs­day cov­er­ing the pro­vin­cial elec­tion. He was sta­tioned in Em­brun, where he di­vided his time be­tween Lib­eral Pierre Ler­oux’s camp and the head­quar­ters of PC can­di­date, Amanda Si­mard. Here is a time­line from that night:

8:45 p.m.: I walk into the Em­brun Com­mu­nity Cen­tre 15 min­utes be­fore the polls are slated to close. This is where Pierre Ler­oux’s sup­port­ers have gath­ered to watch the elec­tion re­sults. The hall is dec­o­rated in red – red table­cloths, red spot­lights il­lu­mi­nat­ing the wall. There are about 12 peo­ple here. They are watch­ing the Global news feed, which is be­ing pro­jected on the wall.

8:50 p.m.: I meet lo­cal res­i­dent and Lib­eral sup­porter Me­lanie Belisle, who is de­lighted to tell me that tonight, her 18-year-old son, Justin, voted for the very first time. She tells me she has known Pierre for many years and that he is a man of his word who wants to try to fix things.

8:55 p.m.: I meet Pierre Ler­oux’s mother, Linda Ler­oux, who is wear­ing red. She assures me that’s not a co­in­ci­dence. “I know the Lib­er­als won’t get re-elected tonight but I’m hop­ing more peo­ple will vote for a good Lib­eral can­di­date,” she says. “We need some Lib­er­als in Queen’s Park, even if they don’t form the govern­ment, they need to off­set what the PCs and the NDP will do.”

9 p.m.: I meet Doug An­thony, cam­paign man­ager for Pierre Ler­oux and, up un­til two months ago, a card-car­ry­ing PC mem­ber for nearly six decades. What changed his mind? Pierre, he says. “I ran his may­oral cam­paign,” he says. “I’ve known him for years. I couldn’t sup­port any­one else.” He says that Ms. Si­mard, as a Rus­sell Town­ship Coun­cil­lor she voted her­self a 22 per cent raise and also voted for a pol­icy that said coun­cil­lors can still be paid if they miss up to 85 per cent of the meet­ings. “I just can’t sup­port that,” he says.

9:05 p.m.: A PC pun­dit on TV is talk­ing about how his party’s plat­form ap­peals to all de­mo­graph­ics. Some­one at the ta­ble re­sponds to that al­le­ga­tion by say­ing a bad word.

9:13 p.m.: Global an­nounces that Peggy Sat­tler, the in­cum­bent MPP for Lon­don West, has been re-elected for the NDP. She is the first can­di­date to be de­clared elected.

9:14 p.m.: Kath­leen Wynne is trail­ing in her rid­ing.

9:15 p.m. NDP leader An­drea Hor­wath is de­clared elected.

9:17 p.m.: Global of­fi­cially an­nounces that it’s go­ing to be a PC ma­jor­ity. The en­ergy in the room in­stantly drops to just above noth­ing. The writ­ing’s on the wall so let’s go to the PC cam­paign of­fice about five blocks away.

9:26 p.m.: One of the first peo­ple I see there is Pierre Lemieux, the long-time Con­ser­va­tive MP in Glen­garry-Prescott-Rus­sell. I tell him that it’s con­fus­ing hav­ing a Con­ser­va­tive named Pierre Lemieux and a Lib­eral named Pierre Ler­oux. He agrees. Al­though no re­sults for Glen­garry-Prescott-Rus­sell have come in yet, he says he thinks Ms. Si­mard’s chances of vic­tory are “out­stand­ing.”

“I knew that from go­ing door-to-door with her,” he says. “The high­est num­ber of peo­ple said they were vot­ing PC and the next said they were un­de­cided be­tween the PC and the NDP.” He says that peo­ple have lost con­fi­dence in the Lib­eral brand, both at the pro­vin­cial and fed­eral lev­els.

9:27 p.m.: There’s about two dozen peo­ple sit­ting around a TV show­ing the CBC feed. They are eat­ing sand­wiches and drink­ing – how ap­pro­pri­ate is this? – Blue Light.

9:36 p.m.: Lisa MacLeod, the in­cum­bent PC in Ne­pean-Car­leton, has been re-elected. She is shown danc­ing on TV. Ms. MacLeod has been to North Glen­garry sev­eral times. She’s been to the High­land Games be­fore and, seven years ago, she was con­stantly in the rid­ing to cham­pion then can­di­date, Mar­ilissa Gos­selin.

9:37 p.m.: I wan­der into a back room at Ms. Si­mard’s head­quar­ters and find five young peo­ple stand­ing around, drink­ing wa­ter and beer. They tell me they were vol­un­teers with the cam­paign. As soon as they learn I am with the me­dia, they tell me they can­not com­ment on any­thing. I am po­litely asked to leave the back room.

9:38 p.m.: Kath­leen Wynne is now lead­ing

in her rid­ing. 9:40 p.m.: Mitzie Hunter, the for­mer Min­is­ter of Ed­u­ca­tion, is lead­ing in her rid­ing of Scarborough-Guild­wood. (She would even­tu­ally be re-elected.) Ms. Hunter was on the front page of our news­pa­per on Jan. 10, 2017. She was vis­it­ing Glen­garry District High School dur­ing the school clo­sure era.

9:42 p.m.: It is an­nounced that the Glen­garry-Prescott-Rus­sell polls won’t be re­leased un­til 10:30. Ap­par­ently, there was a fire alarm at one of the sta­tions, which caused the de­lay.

9:45 p.m.: Some­one at CBC is say­ing that the five big­gest is­sues in this elec­tion are the econ­omy, health care, ed­u­ca­tion, the en­vi­ron­ment, and en­ergy. In that or­der.

9:50 p.m.: His­tory is made. On­tario has elected its first ever Green MPP. Party Leader Mike Schreiner is the new MPP in Guelph.

9:52 p.m.: Lib­eral John Fraser is elected in Ottawa South. Some­one be­hind me groans and de­scribes him as “slimy.”

10:02 p.m. Some peo­ple sud­denly re­mem­ber that it’s game five of the Stan­ley Cup Fi­nals. Some­one whips out an iPhone and an­nounces that Ve­gas is lead­ing Washington 3-2 at the end of the sec­ond pe­riod. Some­one else says he’s happy it’s not the Sen­a­tors or Maple Leafs play­ing. Then no one would know what to watch.

10:14 p.m.: One time PC leader hope­ful Chris­tine El­liott has been elected.

10:15 p.m.: For­mer Premier Mike Har­ris’s son, also Mike Har­ris, has been elected.

10:23 p.m.: Doug Ford, who will soon be the new Premier, is on TV. He is promis­ing to “work ev­ery­day for a bet­ter fu­ture for our chil­dren.” He also gives a shout-out to Hazel McCal­lion, the 97-year-old for­mer Mis­sis­sauga Mayor, who is stand­ing in the front row.

10:25 p.m.: PC sup­port­ers are laugh­ing at a re­cently taken picture of Pierre Ler­oux’s head­quar­ters. The on­line picture shows a largely empty room.

10:29 p.m.: Doug Ford says he knows that his brother, Rob, is smil­ing down from heaven.

10:32 p.m.: Now that the polls are closed, some of­fi­cials in the room say they can re­lease some pre­lim­i­nary num­bers. So far, Amanda Si­mard has 53 per cent of the vote. The NDP can­di­date, Bonnie Jean-Louis, has 22 per cent and Pierre Ler­oux has 18.

10:43 p.m.: Kath­leen Wynne has re­signed as Lib­eral leader. Un­sur­pris­ingly, some peo­ple in the room are happy with the de­ci­sion.

10:47 p.m.: Ac­cord­ing to CBC, Amanda Si­mard has 123 votes. Only one poll has been re­leased.

10: 52 p.m.: More polls are fi­nal­ized. Now, Ms. Si­mard has 43 per cent of the vote. Mr. Ler­oux has moved up and has 32.1 per cent of votes cast.

10:57 p.m.: It’s of­fi­cial. Amanda Si­mard has been de­clared elected.

11:03 p.m.: Amanda Si­mard, in per­son, ar­rives at her cam­paign head­quar­ters. She makes a speech, mostly in French, and has a brief scrum with re­porters. She hugs lots of peo­ple and shakes lots of hands. Some­one gives her flow­ers.

11:25 p.m.: Glen­garry-Prescot­tRus­sell MP Fran­cis Drouin shows up to con­grat­u­late her. Ms. Si­mard seems elated to see him and gives him a hug. Yes, he’s a Lib­eral but that doesn’t mat­ter right now. At this par­tic­u­lar mo­ment, the mood is about cel­e­bra­tion, not par­ti­san pol­i­tics.

11:33 p.m.: Out­side, I ask Ms. Si­mard about the al­le­ga­tions made against her by Mr. An­thony at the Em­brun Com­mu­nity Cen­tre. She doesn’t want to an­swer, say­ing it’s not “rel­e­vant to tonight.”

I don’t push her for an an­swer. It’s elec­tion night, af­ter all, and she de­serves her time in the sun. She prom­ises to do an in­ter­view with The News later.

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