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Arnott cruises to another easy win; cites need for parties to work together

by David Meyer

WELLINGTON-HALTON HILLS - Progressive Conservative supporters in Erin on election night exhibited as much impatience at the lack of results for the riding as they did any anxiety about who was going to win it.

With television stations focused strictly on the Greater Toronto Area, it was those with cellular phones who managed to obtain results as they came in.

Arnott was told very early by a CTV official at his post campaign celebration that he had won. He smiled, but noted he remembered exchanges of concession phone calls between George W. Bush and Al Gore not so long ago. He also mentioned the classic headline in the Chicago Tribune declaring Tom Dewey winning the presidency over Harry S Truman.

As more province-wide results came in, he said, “It doesn’t look good for us.”

He was referring to the Progressive Conservative party, which increased its seat count in the provincial election but failed, after leading in the polls for a good part of the summer, to form a government.

Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty will be heading back to the legislature with a third mandate, but a minority government this time around.

Arnott won handily. The unofficial vote tally from Elections Ontario was:

- Arnott, 23,503;

- Liberal Moya Johnson, 11,326;

- NDP’s Dale Hamilton, 6,132; and

- Green Party’s Raymond Dartsch, 1,309.

A smiling Arnott told a cheering crowd, “Thanks to all of you, I go back to work tomorrow morning. I go back to work on behalf of the people of Wellington-Halton Hills.”

He thanked his campaign team and noted, “What a challenge we had in Georgetown.”

Arnott also made reference to the PC’s inability to take control of the government.

“Clearly the change we believed Ontario needs will have to come one step at a time ... next time,” he said.

He said because of a minority government, parties will have to learn to work together.

He spent the final day of his campaign on the street. He said people hadalready made up their minds by then, but he thanked them for their support.

Arnott said in an interview he planned to be in his office early Friday morning. He said one of his top priorities is the GTA West corridor, where the province was planning to build a road through Halton Hills. That was placed on the back burner by the Liberals before the campaign kicked off, and Arnott said he will offer the government a ten point plan.

He also planned to meet with a doctor in Georgetown to discuss medical issues.

When asked what had sent the party’s campaign off the rails, Arnott said he had no immediate answer, but there will be “lots of time to look at that.”

The Liberal candidate said in an interview she knew she had a tough task in the campaign and Wellington-Halton Hills is well known to be a blue (Tory) riding. Plus, she said, Arnott is also a hard working and respected MPP.

“I didn’t doubt for a minute [that Arnott would win],” she said. “I think he’s a great leader and a great MPP.”

But, Johnson said, in a democracy nobody should have a free ride, and that is why she campaigned so hard. The longtime Halton Hills councillor noted she had a lot of support from her area.

But, Johnson said, she had absolute faith Dalton McGuinty’s Liberals would win the election.

“Voters didn’t have a lot of faith in Mr. Hudak,” she said of the Progressive Conservative leader. “Nobody had anything negative to say about Ted - but Mr. Hudak was a different story.”

Johnson, like many, was dismayed at the lowest voter turnout in Ontario election history. The official tally was not in, but the turnout estimates early the next day ranged from 47 to 49 per cent.

She also noted that many people do not pay much attention to their government. She had one person ask her “How could you run against [federal Wellington Halton Hills MP] Michael Chong?”

For the NDP’s Dale Hamilton, the election results were also no surprise, since “the riding is strongly conservative.”

Despite that, she has made a commitment to run again. She said her immediate goal is to build up the riding association, and she is encouraged because a number of people she met during the campaign are offering to help.

She met a supporter in Georgetown getting off the GO train there election night while she was campaigning and urging people to get out and vote.

The man indicated his support for the NDP, and said of Dale Hamilton, “I’d like to meet him.”

She explained who she is, and found another person willing to help rebuild a riding association that has languished, with former candidate Noel Duignan basically keeping it alive by himself.

“I will run again,” she promised, adding, “Maybe in four years.”

Historically, minority governments do not last beyond two years in Ontario.

Hamilton also noted the riding boundaries might be redrawn by then, something she welcomes. She said the Halton Hills part of the riding is very urban, while much of Wellington County is rural.

As for the election, “It was a good campaign. I took the high road. Ted and Moya did the same.”

But she noted someone filed a complaint because she owns property surrounding the Eden Mills community centre, which was a polling station. Someone complained about signs on her property within sight of the polling station - several days before election day.

“Things were getting testy,” she concluded.




October 14, 2011


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