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Chong was an easy winner with big percentage of popular vote

by David Meyer

ACTON - There was al­most no drama at the Mill Street Crossing here as in­cumbent MP Michael Chong simply walked away with the election in Wellington Halton Hills.

Supporters gathered all dur­ing the evening, and their con­fi­dence was generally quiet, too, although a huge cheer did erupt at the news that former Conservative and then-Liberal Garth Turner had gone down to defeat in the Halton riding next door.

When Chong did arrive with his wife, Carrie, he said in an interview that the vote was a validation of his own work and Prime Minister Stephen Har­per’s plan for the economy.

Chong said the final two weeks of the campaign made it clear that the global fiscal crisis was the issue that people in Wellington Halton Hills were focusing on. He said it was “over­whelming.”

Chong finished with 29,191 votes, or 57% of the ballots cast.

Liberal Bruce Bowser was second with 11,312 votes and 22.3%. Green Party candidate Brent Bouteiller finished in third place with 4,997 votes and 9.9% of the ballots cast, narrowly edging Noel Duig­nan, who received 9.4% and 4,747 votes. Christian Heritage Party representative Jeffrey Streuker receive 0.8%, or 414 votes.

Chong laughed when he was asked if he wants to serve in the cabinet of a new Con­servative minority government. He held a cabinet post but re­signed it on principle because of a dispute with Harper over an arrangement with the Bloc Quebecois.

“I’m happy to serve in the cabinet – or outside of it,” he said with a smile. “I’m agnostic about it.”

As for working in another minority government, Chong said, “I respect the results – that Canadians have not given us a majority.”

He said his plan was to start work on Wednesday back in Ottawa.

When he is there, he expects the new government will at­tempt to assuage the fears of  Canadians who are afraid of economic downturn and losing their jobs.

But while the economy will be a major task in the months ahead, Chong said he heard plenty from residents about two issues in the riding and he will be working on those, too. He said growth pressure and in­frastructure are issues that simply must be solved. He noted the Conservatives in the last parliament set up a $60-billion infrastructure fund, but he said he would like to see that expanded. “We need to con­tinue what we’ve begun with a five year plan,” he said.

The other issue is growth. “Few imagined the growth that’s taken place in this area,” he said of Halton Hills, and added Wellington County is also experiencing the same pres­sures.

Chong said people do not want to see what happened in the Greater Toronto Area hap­pen in their riding – like the GTA over the past 30 years. It is not sustainable.”

Chong told an admiring crowd that it was their hard work that helped him to vic­tory. He particularly saluted Jim Smith for his work with everyone throughout the cam­paign, and thanked his wife for her support.

He thanked the voters for their support not only of him, but of his party, which has now won two governments in a row.

As for his supporters, Chong said, “I couldn’t do it with­out you.” He said there were hundreds and hundreds of volunteers who helped him to victory. “This is your night. Let’s celebrate.”

Liberal candidate Bruce Bowser was holding a gath­er­ing near Acton, but there was less there to celebrate. He and his daughter and small cam­paign team came to Acton and congratulated Chong on his victory.

Bowser said in an interview, “I’ve had a great experience and met some wonderful people.”

He refused to commit to considering another run at office and said he wanted to first look at the numbers.

But, he said of Chong, “He’s done a great job and obviously, people respect him.”


Vol 41 Issue 42


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