Sylvia Jones re-elected in D-C as PCs record landslide win

June 14, 2018   ·   0 Comments

By Mike Pickford

There were few surprises in Dufferin-Caledon riding last week as long-time Progressive Conservative MPP Sylvia Jones was voted in for a fourth successive term at Queen’s Park.

In truth, it was something of a cruise for Ms. Jones, who accumulated a whopping 29,701 votes last Thursday (June 7), good enough for 53 percent of the local vote. It was by far her strongest showing in a riding renowned for waving the blue flag come election time.

What perhaps did come as a surprise was the overwhelming support that the PCs, led by the polarizing Doug Ford, received across the province. Not only will the Tories form government for the first time in 14 years, they will do so with a huge majority, having claimed 76 seats in the June 7 vote. To put that into perspective, the PCs won just 28 seats under Tim Hudak in the 2014 provincial election.

Addressing a crowd of approximately 50 people at the Orangeville Curling Club on election night, Ms. Jones was triumphant, thanking local voters for once again placing their faith in the PC party. A member of the Ontario legislature since 2007, she will for the first time be serving as a member of the government.

“I really don’t have much to complain about. A majority government in the province of Ontario feels pretty good,” Ms. Jones told media. “There’s been a real change in direction. Ontario was looking for a change, residents were asking for change and they got that in this election.”

She added, “I think you’re going to see a reinvigorated government that is going to bring change for the people.”

And change we will see. The Liberals, who have formed government in Ontario since 2004, lost their official party status on Thursday. The party won only seven seats in what turned out to be a historic vote, way down from the 55 they had secured in 2014. Premier Kathleen Wynne, who was one of the seven Liberals elected after narrowly retaining her seat in Don Valley West, announced her resignation as party leader in an emotional statement shortly after results came in.

The Liberals’ downfall presented Ontario’s New Democrats with an opportunity to form the Official Opposition for the first time in more than 40 years. The NDP, under Andrea Horwath, won 40 seats in last week’s vote – close to double what they secured in 2014 (22).

While Doug Ford and Andrea Horwath will have been celebrating their own perceived victories, perhaps the biggest winner of the night was the Green Party of Ontario. Party leader Mike Schreiner was elected in Guelph with 45 percent of the local vote. This will mark the first time the Greens will have a seat in the legislature and goes a long way to legitimizing the party.

In the midst of the stunning Tory majority, Dufferin-Caledon NDP candidate Andrea Mullarkey held her head high after securing 11,381 votes in the riding, good enough for second place.

“The campaign went well. I was actually very excited and we had such extreme support out there,” Ms. Mullarkey said. “It was awesome.”

But on election night, she admitted to being nervous. Once results started to roll in, it quickly became apparent that locally, and provincially, this was not to be the sea of change the NDP had hoped for. Still, having received over 6,000 votes more than in 2014, the growth in the riding was impressive.

Finishing second “is a very proud moment for the NDP in Dufferin-Caledon,” Ms. Mullarkey said. “We’ve never been spoken about in the county like we were this time. A lot of people discussed us.”

Laura Campbell, the Green candidate, finished in third place with 7,011 votes in Dufferin-Caledon. Speaking to the Citizen, she said she was proud of her efforts, noting the lack of spending for her campaign compared to other parties.

“I ran a positive campaign,” Ms. Campbell said.

She noted this election was “a win-win” for her, with her party leader, Mike Schreiner, finally gaining a seat at Queen’s Park at the fourth time of asking.

Ms. Campbell added that she plans to run again in the 2022 provincial election. “I’m a Green to the core,” Ms. Campbell stated. She said she will “keep spreading the Green wave and letting people know that there’s another option out there,” remarking that members of the Green Party are simply “concerned citizens” rather than “career politicians”.

It was a tough night for local Liberal candidate Bob Gordanier. A side effect of the widespread unrest provincially with the Liberals rather than anything he did wrong on the campaign trail, Mr. Gordanier received just 6,971 votes last week, finishing fourth in Dufferin-Caledon. It was a significant drop from the 13,861 votes the party secured under Bobbie Daid in 2014, but Mr. Gordanier was his usual jovial self as he arrived at Soulyve to greet a collection of passionate supporters.

“I want to thank you all for coming,” the local beef farmer began. “We put on a good effort and we offered the best platform of the election… But things went the way they did. Now, we have to keep an eye on the new government and hold it to account, whether there are many or few of us to do it.”

In closing, Mr. Gordanier offered words of support to Ms. Wynne, stating, “I think Kathleen Wynne was the best premier this province ever had and she did what she thought was best at the end.”

Having served as co-deputy leader of the Ontario PCs since 2015, Ms. Jones should find herself in a significant position once again at Queen’s Park this term. However, with Doug Ford giving little away on the campaign trail, both in terms of the PC platform and who he expects to include in his political inner circle, it’s unclear what role Ms. Jones will play with the party moving forward. Not that that particularly concerns the local politician, who told media her first priority has always been, and will remain, the residents of Dufferin-Caledon.

“My focus will always be on Dufferin-Caledon. First and foremost, I represent the people of this riding. Any other roles and responsibilities that Doug Ford asks me to do, I will take on because I’m a team player and that’s part of what we do,” Ms. Jones said. “June 7 was all about getting people to the polls. We’ll have to wait and see what my future holds.”

– With notes from Scott Taylor, Jasen Obermeyer and Constance Scrafield

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