‘The majority the province needs’
Progressive Conservative incumbent Jim McDonell continued to do what he has been doing since first elected in 2011, handily winning the riding of Stormont– Dundas–South Glengarry for the Tories.
Mr. McDonell took a commanding 61.5 per cent of the vote, outdistancing his closest competitor – New Democratic Party candidate Marc Benoit – by 17,364 votes.
In the 2014 general election, Mr. McDonell, a former South Glengarry Mayor, delivered a commanding win with 51.72 per cent share of the votes.
On Thursday, the New Democrats and Liberals once again largely split the remaining votes with the NDP winning 21.63 per cent of the share and Liberal candidate Heather Megill winning 5,386 of the votes cast, or 12.27 per cent.
Ontario Green Party Candidate Elaine Kennedy took 1,596 votes, or 3.67 per cent, and Sabile Trimm of the Libertarian Party took 360 votes, or .83 per cent.
Voter turnout in the riding numbered 43,538, or 57.28 per cent of the 78,489 eligible to cast ballots.
Mr. McDonell’s team took no chances in a race where the political wind was changing, perhaps
Jim McDonell unpredictably, with some pollsters saying the NDP and PC parties were locked in a dead heat.
In the end, Mr. McDonell achieved his own majority with a colossal win, sweeping aside the competition and helping the Big Blue Machine seemingly return to the glory days when the Ontario PCs won 12 consecutive elections from 1943 to 1985.
Mr. McDonell’s fundraising chair, Rick Marvell, attributed his candidate’s win to the respect that he has earned in the riding.
“Jim has worked extremely hard for four years, hasn’t missed a beat in the area, and I think the people appreciated that and that’s why you see the majority he’s got,” he said.
Before delivering his victory address in front of a Ramada Inn banquet room packed with close to 200 jubilant supporters, Mr. McDonell discussed the election and answered questions in a media scrum assembled in the foyer outside.
Asked to comment on PC leader Doug Ford’s colourful past, Mr. McDonell defended him, saying that he is not the person portrayed in the press.
“When people get a chance to see him and without the pressure of an election going on and people putting words in his mouth, I think they will get a different impression and everybody will be very impressed with the direction he takes,” Mr. McDonell told reporters.
“He’s not the person I’ve heard the other leaders talking about. He’s a very common sense, laid back person, very professional. The people where he’s from love him, and that should tell you something.”
After the scrum, Mr. McDonell joined the celebration. He was accompanied by his wife Margie, and daughters Marion Brunet with her husband Roch Brunet and Chelsea McDonell.
“What a great night!,” said a beaming Mr. McDonell. “We finally got that majority government I think this province needs. It’s going to be a tough job, but we’re going to get in there and make the changes necessary to bring this province back.”
“It couldn’t have been done without all the help of the people in this room,” he said making a nod to his campaign manager, North Dundas Mayor Eric Duncan – in his sixth stint as federal and provincial PC campaign manager in the riding – fundraising chair Rick Marlowe, and his family including nephew Mike McDonell who worked on the campaign.
After two successful re-elections to Queen’s Park, this is the first time Mr. McDonell will sit as a member of the governing party in the coming legislature.
Asked about the possibility that Mr. McDonell could be in line for a seat in Doug Ford’s cabinet, Mr. Marvell said that the veteran candidate meets all the criteria.
“I think Jim fits in Agriculture very well. He comes from a farming background, he’s kept his hand in the farming industry, and I think make a great Minister of Agriculture.”