It was inevitable that three of the four candidates vying to capture the Kenora-Rainy River riding would not see the outcome they were hoping for in last Thursday’s provincial election, which saw incumbent NDP MPP Sarah Campbell re-elected handily.
But while they won’t be heading to Queen’s Park, local Liberal candidate Anthony Leek, PC hopeful Randy Nickle, and Green Party candidate Tim McKillop are trying to stay positive despite the votes not falling in their favour.
“We increased our vote and I think that was really the key thing for us,” Leek remarked.
“We wanted to get past that 15 percent and we were successful in that.
“I think that speaks volumes into the momentum that we are starting to get here for the Liberals in this riding,” he added.
“I am glad Sarah Campbell got in,” noted McKillop.
“Her results weren’t surprising and I think she will do well,” he said.
Nickle garnered 5,905 votes (25.43 percent) while Leek was a distant third with 3,729 (16.06 percent).
McKillop wound up with 711 votes, for 3.06 percent of the popular vote.
“Obviously I was fairly disappointed,” admitted Nickle, who had thought he would see a tighter race against Campbell.
“I didn’t get into it to come in second,” he stressed.
“Pretty well everywhere I was going, I had a very welcomed reception,” Nickle added.
“Obviously there’s a percentage of people you are talking to that aren’t in favour of your party, but all indications I had were that it would have been a fair amount closer than it was.”
Nickle said his party focused on a balanced budget.
“[We] came out with the truth; came out with the ideas that we’re going to do to get us into a balanced budget position and make the province stronger,” he noted.
“Maybe it was too much for people to take and understand, but it’s a footnote now.”
Despite the outcome, Nickle is proud of his efforts.
“There’s nothing really that I would have changed, from my perspective, of how we ran our campaign in Northwestern Ontario,” he remarked.
“I think we did a great job,” he added. “We had a great team that did everything that they needed to do.
“And I believe I did everything that I needed to do.”
Leek also was pleased with his campaign and efforts over the past few years.
“It’s been a long road in a short time in rebuilding our organization from the ground up in January, 2012,” he said.
“To see how far we’ve gone, and see that reflected over an increase of 1,500 votes [from the 2011 election], speaks volumes to the work we’ve been able to do in a very short time.”
McKillop also saw an increase in votes for the Green Party from the 2011 election, where Jojo Holiday earned just 385 (1.8 percent).
“I think the Green Party . . . is becoming a little more mainstream,” he reasoned. “Some of those stereotypes are starting to disappear.
“Our policies are valid, and the response that I’ve gotten at the doors and conversation indicated that our views are in line with the folks out there. . . .
“[People] are paying attention to that platform we have and the campaigns that we are running,” McKillop added.
“I think what we are offering is really resonating with voters, but I think we are also reflecting our electoral districts a little bit better than we have in the past.
“It is definitely putting us in good shape for the future.”
As Kenora-Rainy River stayed NDP orange last Thursday, the Liberals under Kathleen Wynne increased their seat count to form a majority government—an outcome that surprised some.
“I wasn’t expecting a Liberal majority, that’s for sure,” Nickle conceded.
“I was surprised with the outcome of the election [provincially],” echoed McKillop. “With all of the scandal and controversy and all of the anger out there, I thought there was some real hunger for some change through that.
“I think it caught me a bit off guard with the end result,” he added, indicating he thought the NDP would have picked up a few more seats.
But Leek was thrilled with the Liberal majority outcome.
“Kathleen Wynne is an amazing individual,” he enthused. “Her approach has given a positive response to the people of Ontario.
“I think it was very easy to contrast her from Tim Hudak, who was all about tearing things down, [while] Kathleen was about building things up and building people up.
“That resonated extremely well and I couldn’t be happier,” Leek stressed.
“I’m very proud of the work the Liberal party has done throughout this campaign.”
Leek also said the Liberal government offers plenty of benefits for people in the north.
“The budget that was tabled . . . shows the dedication to continued infrastructure funding for the north,” he explained.
“It has dedication for area First Nations, especially those in rural communities.
“I think there is a lot there for families and municipalities, as well as businesses, that is going to help support the long-term sustainability of this region,” he added.
“I don’t know that we’ve done ourselves any favours, but hopefully the Liberal government will step up to the plate and work with Sarah Campbell to make sure that these things that are extremely important to us get taken care of and get answered,” he remarked.
“I feel a little unfortunate for the seniors and the families who are having a difficult time balancing their books, trying to figure out what bills to pay right now, because I don’t see any of that in the near future going to be changing for them.”
Meanwhile, the election outcome hasn’t dampened the spirits of the defeated candidates.
“It was awesome and I am really kind of humbled by that kind of support,” McKillop enthused.
“We were able to bring some groups together that are going to work together on our riding association and is committed to doing that now, which is something we didn’t have going into this election.
“Even here, the future is really bright for the Green Party,” he added.
“I am hoping to run again. I am looking forward to it.”
Leek said he continues to be dedicated to the riding.
“Whether I decide to be the candidate or not in the future, we have to make sure we have an organization that is strong, an organization that continues for show momentum over the next three to four years,” he stressed.
“I’m dedicated to doing that. We’ve had a great crew come on board over the last several years.
“And it’s going to continue to grow,” Leek said.
“We’ve seen that growth with the voting [Thursday] and I’m very dedicated to ensuring we continue that momentum.”
Nickle, for his part, hasn’t ruled out running in the next election.
“This is just a short little blip right now and it’s very possible that I’ll be back,” he said.
“I really appreciate all the support I’ve had. The donors, the volunteers, the people who put up signs, it was really something.
“It was tremendous for me to see how the riding pulled together.
“There is so much inter-connectivity between communities,” Nickle noted.
“I believe that we are a lot more closely-knit than people think.”