‘The ma­jor­ity the prov­ince needs’

The Glengarry News - - News - BY MAR­GARET CALDBICK News Staff

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.

Cabi­net ma­te­rial?

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.”

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