It was said the 2018 provincial election was all about change—and that's precisely what voters delivered.
Fifteen years of Liberal rule came to a crashing demise Thursday night as the Progressive Conservatives led by Doug Ford captured 76 of the 124 seats at Queen's Park to win a majority government. The NDP ended up with 40 seats to form the official Opposition while the Liberals lost official party status by taking just seven seats.
In another major change, the Green Party will be represented in the legislature for the first time after leader Mike Schreiner won his seat in Guelph.
Change also was the theme here at home as voters elected PC candidate Greg Rickford to be the next MPP for Kenora-Rainy River—ending 31 years of NDP representation locally, starting with Howard Hampton's first election win in 1987 when the riding was just Rainy River before being joined with Kenora in 1999.
It also marks the first time our MPP will be sitting on the government side of the aisle in 23 years since Mr. Hampton served as minister of natural resources and then attorney general in the Bob Rae government from 1990-95.
There's already talk of Mr. Rickford landing a cabinet post in the Ford government. As the only PC candidate to be elected in Northern Ontario, he would be a much-needed voice to represent the interests of our region at the cabinet table. Beyond that, he already has valuable experience sitting in cabinet while a federal MP for Kenora under former prime minister Stephen Harper.
Regardless if he winds up in cabinet or not, Mr. Rickford's commanding win by an almost 2,200-vote margin is deserving of congratulations. The defeated candidates—Glen Archer (NDP), Karen Kejick (Liberal), and Ember McKillop (Green Party)—also warrant a salute and our thanks for making the commitment and personal sacrifices to put forth their respective party platforms during the campaign.
As has been stated here before, democracy is the real winner when voters are presented with a variety of viewpoints and policies to ponder and ultimately pass judgement on.
Speaking of which, it was great to see voter turnout rebound for this election as about 57 percent of eligible voters in Kenora-Rainy River cast their ballot—just below the 58 percent total province-wide. While still nothing to rave about, it was much better than the 51.3 percent who bothered to vote four years ago and hopefully that bodes well for future elections.
With the people having spoken, now it's up to our elected candidates to deliver on their promises. And the clock already is ticking.