Kitch­ener-Con­estoga stays blue as much of the province fol­lows suit

Mike Harris edges NDP chal­lenger Kelly Dick to take the rid­ing, will join new premier Doug Ford’s ma­jor­ity gov­ern­ment, to be sworn in on June 29

The Woolwich Observer - - NEWS - FAISAL ALI

MIKE HARRIS JR., THE Tory can­di­date for Kitch­ener-Con­estoga, rode to vic­tory as part of the blue wave that swept the province June 7. The Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tives turned wide­spread pub­lic hos­til­ity to­wards Kath­leen Wynne’s Lib­er­als into a solid ma­jor­ity, tak­ing 76 of 124 seats and mak­ing Doug Ford the new premier.

For Harris, the son of the for­mer On­tario premier Mike Harris, this will be his first foray into pol­i­tics as an elected of­fi­cial.

“I’m ec­static,” said Harris in the im­me­di­ate after­math of the vote, mir­ror­ing the tri­umphant mood amongst sup­port­ers, who were out cel­e­brat­ing in St. Jacobs.

“This is some­thing that I’ve wanted to do for a very long time. It’s been some­thing that’s al­ways been on my mind. I’m sure you’ve heard me say at some point pol­i­tics has been in my blood for 34 years, and my fam­ily is over the moon, and so am I.”

As part of a PC ma­jor­ity gov­ern­ment, Harris’s mes­sage to con­stituents is direct: “Help is on the way.”

“As I knocked on doors in all the cor­ners of the Wil­mot, Welles­ley, Wool­wich and Kitch­ener, I heard the same thing. Life has be­come un­af­ford­able, and gov­ern­ment is the rea­son. In fact, gov­ern­ment has be­come the prob­lem, not the so­lu­tion and that ends tonight.”

It was an ex­tremely nar­row race in Kitch­en­erCon­estoga, with Harris claim­ing the his­tor­i­cally Con­ser­va­tive rid­ing by less than a two per cent of the vote.

Hot on his heels was NDP can­di­date Kelly Dick, a first for the party that has typ­i­cally placed a dis­tant third in the rid­ing. Dick came within 700 votes of Harris, split­ting the vote al­most evenly be­tween them at 38 per cent and 39.6 per cent, re­spec­tively.

The dis­tant-third spot this time around be­longed to Lib­eral can­di­date Joe Gow­ing, who claimed just 6,000 votes – or 14 per cent of the bal­lots cast. The Lib­er­als have in pre­vi­ous elec­tions been the Con­ser­va­tives’ most se­ri­ous ri­vals in the Kitch­ener-Con­estoga rid­ing, but Gow­ing’s un­der­per­for­mance at the polls in this elec­tion was repli­cated in the province-wide re­sults, which saw Lib­eral party sup­port evap­o­rate – its seven seats falls one short of main­tain­ing of­fi­cial party sta­tus.

Be­hind Gow­ing in the rid­ing was the Green Party’s Bob Jonkman, who placed fourth with 2,800 votes, just slightly un­der half that of the Lib­eral can­di­date. Had just a few Green Party sup­port­ers switched al­le­giance to the NDP, the en­tire rid­ing could very eas­ily have been tipped into or­ange ter­ri­tory.

Al­though lo­cally the Green Party’s for­tunes changed lit­tle from the pre­vi­ous elec­tion, over in the neigh­bour­ing rid­ing of Guelph the party won its first-ever pro­vin­cial nom­i­na­tion. Mike Schreiner was elected as the very first Green MPP in the province.

In fifth and sixth place in Kitch­ener-Con­estoga were Lib­er­tar­ian can­di­date Daniel Benoy and the Con­sen­sus Party’s Dan Holt, who won 1.3 and 0.5 per cent of the bal­lots cast, re­spec­tively.

Poll-by-poll re­sults re­leased this week show vot­ers in Wool­wich and Welles­ley largely sup­ported Harris, with Dick the choice of the sec­ond-largest num­ber of res­i­dents (there was a slight edge for the NDP at the sta­tion at Cal­vary United Church in St. Jacobs, for in­stance).

It was the PC Party of On­tario that rose to the top of this elec­tion, how­ever, claim­ing 76 seats out of a pos­si­ble 124, win­ning a clear ma­jor­ity. In op­po­si­tion is the NDP, which won 40 seats; the rise in the New Democrats in the province marked the fall of the Lib­er­als, who man­aged just seven.

The vic­tors will have a mo­ment to cel­e­brate their suc­cesses af­ter a hard­fought cam­paign, but with elec­tion over, at­ten­tions will quickly have to turn to gov­er­nance, and to On­tario’s en­trenched prob­lems.

“My num­ber-one goal is rep­re­sent­ing the peo­ple of Kitch­ener-Con­estoga. That’s my num­ber-one goal and it will al­ways be my num­ber-one fo­cus,” said Harris. “What the PC party has planned for me, I have no idea at this point. I’m sure we’ll get some phone calls com­ing in over the next few days and kind of get a bet­ter lay of the land.”

Mike Harris is con­grat­u­lated by sup­port­ers gath­ered in St. Jacobs on elec­tion night.

NDP can­di­date Kelly Dick.

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