Byelections don't change face of provincial politics
Published Friday, March 5, 2010 2:14PM EST
Although two new faces are heading to Queen's Park after Thursday's provincial byelections, there won't be any changes to the makeup of the provincial legislature with Bob Chiarelli keeping the Liberal seat in Ottawa West-Nepean, and Leeds-Grenville staying blue with a win by Steve Clark.
Although Chiarelli was the star candidate running for office in his riding – having held the seat before; he only managed a narrow victory with a margin of 1,268 votes over Progressive Conservative candidate Beth Graham.
While the PC leader said the results are an indication that voters are hungry for change, the premier was quick to dismiss those suggestions.
Instead, Dalton McGuinty said a win of more than 40 per cent of the vote in any race with three or more serious contenders was a "significant accomplishment."
Chiarelli to focus on seniors
McGuinty said Chiarelli, who previously sat as MPP for Ottawa West-Nepean from 1987 to 1997, will be an asset to the Liberal team. It's widely believed McGuinty will put Chiarelli – who is also a former mayor of Ottawa – on the fast-track to a cabinet seat.
"Bob brought his personal integrity, his stellar record of public service to bear in this campaign," McGuinty said.
"Those were undoubtedly two very important factors in deciding the outcome of this campaign."
Chiarelli, 68, said his focus at Queen's Park will be on issues important to seniors.
"We need a health care system and we need seniors' programs that are going to accommodate the tremendously changing demographics in this community. That is what I'm committed to, that is what I'm going to work towards," he said.
Hungry for change?
Although the race in the Ottawa riding went to the Liberals, Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak says the results signify voters are unhappy with the governing party.
"The verdict of the voters is in. Even in the Liberals' safest seats, Ontario families are demanding better than the out-of-control spending, scandals and tax grabs that have defined the out-of-touch McGuinty government," Hudak said in a statement.
Conservative cabinet minister John Baird holds the riding federally.
Tories win hands-down in Leeds-Grenville
Meanwhile, Hudak was on hand in Leeds-Grenville to congratulate another former mayor on his victory. Clark, 49, who previously served as Brockville's mayor, won hands-down in a riding that's been held by the Conservatives for decades.
"You can rest assured that we're going to carry forward the message that we received tonight, from Leeds-Grenville to the legislative assembly of Ontario, to be with Tim Hudak, to be with the PC caucus and to represent the good folks of Leeds and Grenville," Clark said in his acceptance speech.
The byelections were called following the resignations of Jim Watson in Ottawa West-Nepean and Bob Runciman in Leeds-Grenville. Watson stepped down to run for mayor of Ottawa last month. Runciman resigned from his post after accepting an appointment to the Senate. He had held the provincial seat in Leeds-Grenville for 29 years.
The Tories will now gather in Ottawa this weekend as the party prepares for next year's provincial election.
With a report from CTV Ottawa's Karen Soloman and files from The Canadian Press