NDP win in Kitchener-Waterloo denies Liberals of majority
Published Friday, September 7, 2012 7:12AM EDT
Following a decisive NDP victory in the Kitchener-Waterloo byelection, a riding that’s long been held by Ontario’s Progressive Conservative party, NDP leader Andrea Horwath said the win was a long-time coming.
“I think people in this riding are similar to people across the province that are tired of cynical politics, tired of the old way politics is being done,” Horwath told CTV Kitchener on Thursday night, moments after it was announced that NDP candidate Catherine Fife took close to 40 per cent of the votes in the riding.
Fife beat out PC candidate Tracey Weiler, who took 31.5 per cent of the vote, while Liberal candidate Eric Davis took 24 per cent.
“It takes a message and a vision and a candidate to move the people,” Horwath told reporters on Friday. “I think we had all those things in Kitchener- Waterloo.”
Fife’s win in one of two Ontario byelections resulted in an upset for both the Liberals and PCs.
While the Liberals held on to the Vaughan riding, which was held by former Ontario finance minister Greg Sorbara, the party’s hopes of winning a majority government in the province was quashed by the NDP victory in Kitchener-Waterloo.
The Liberals missed winning a majority by one seat in the last provincial election.
“You know, it’s tough to win a byelection when you’re in government at the best of times,” Premier Dalton McGuinty said from the Liberal victory party in Vaughan on Thursday. “And I wouldn’t describe this as being an easy time. This is a challenging time for all of us.”
Liberal candidate Steven Del Duca took 51 per cent of the popular vote in Vaughan to easily defeat Progressive Conservative Tony Genco. The NDP was a distant third.
“We’ve got to find a way to address the deficit in a way that doesn’t compromise our health care and our schools,” said McGuinty, who has faced strong opposition from Ontario teachers in recent months after imposing a two- wage freeze.
Asked about the Liberals’ plan to freeze the wages of all Ontario public servants, McGuinty told CTV Toronto to expect the legislation sometime in the fall.
Meanwhile, in Kitchener-Waterloo, Fife said she felt a new energy in the riding from the onset of the campaign.
“The debates were also pivotal,” Fife told CTV Kitchener. “It was a chance for us to talk about our ideas, reach a broader audience and people were really receptive to our ideas about jobs, the economy and health care.”
Asked about winning by a wide margin in a riding held by the PCs for 22 years, Fife said she had the opportunity to “re-introduce” the NDP party to the riding during the campaign.
“That’s the unique part about a byelection, you can have a real conversation about change and people were very receptive to the idea of politicians working harder for them,” said Fife, head of the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association.
PC leader Tim Hudak did not appear publicly Thursday night, but issued a statement blaming unions for teaming up to help the New Democrats take Kitchener-Waterloo.
"Tonight's result has shown that public sector unions from across Ontario were provided with the perfect opportunity to concentrate their resources and lash out against the wage freeze we've been consistently pushing," said Hudak.
"They bought Kitchener-Waterloo, and now we can expect the rest of Ontario taxpayers to pay for it as the NDP cut more budget deals to keep the Liberals in power."
Asked about his effectiveness as leader of the PC party, which now fail to hold a single seat in any urban riding in Ontario, Hudak said he will turn the province around with a “bold, conservative, optimistic plan.”
“There is no more clear moment than today for me, that there are two paths,” Hudak told reporters on Friday. “One that the NDP and Liberals are marching down, bigger spending, higher taxes and more power to the special interest and union bosses, or a PC plan for a smaller government.”
He continued: “We’re the only party with the guts to say no to public sector union bosses.”
The Kitchener-Waterloo byelection was brought about after McGuinty appointed veteran PC Elizabeth Witmer to a $188,000-a-year post as head of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, convincing her to give up the seat she'd held for 22 years
With files from The Canadian Press and reports from CTV Kitchener and CTV Toronto