Algoma-Manitoulin remains orange as Liberals dominate Queen’s Park

Michael Mantha MPP for Algoma—Manitoulin. File photo.

ONTARIO—Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and the Ontario Liberal Party were returned to power with a 58-seat majority in the June 12 Ontario Provincial Election. The original count showed the Liberals gaining 10 seats for 59 seats in the legislature, but the discovery of a data entry error led to another Progressive Conservative Party win. Leader of the Official Opposition Tim Hudak announced his resignation as leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party late Thursday evening as it became clear that his party were the major losers, dropping 10 seats (later reduced to nine).

The Ontario Liberals secured 58 seats to capture a majority that took many in the province by surprise. The Liberals only lost Sudbury and Windsor West while picking up three ridings from the Tories and two Toronto area ridings from the NDP. The NDP in turn picked up Sudbury and held onto most of the North, with Thunder Bay-Atikokan and Sault Ste. Marie staying red.

The increase in NDP votes across the province, up 1.2 percent from 2011, came despite the left turn in the Liberal platform and the recent right turn of Andrea Horwath’s NDP ran counter to pundits expectations that the NDP vote was collapsing and turning to the Liberals in an effort to stop the Tories. The big loser of the evening was clearly Mr. Hudak, whose party failed to pick up any seats from the other parties.

Voter turnout improved slightly across Ontario overall in the 2014 election, rising to 51 percent of eligible voters over 2011’s 48 percent—the 2011 turnout was the lowest in Ontario history—ending two decades of declining voter turnout, but still ranking as the second lowest turnout in the province’s history.

Algoma-Manitoulin stayed solidly in the orange camp, with incumbent MPP Mike Mantha being returned to Queen’s Park with 53.36 percent of the vote (14,172) while the Liberal’s Craig Hughson garnered 24.49 percent (6,504) and the Progressive Conservative’s Jib Turner came in with 17.28 percent (4,589). The Green’s Alexandra Zalucky captured 3.12 percent (828) and the Libertarian’s Richard Hadidian secured 1.75 percent (464). The NDP vote in Algoma-Manitoulin increased over the 2011 tally by 8.4 percent and overall voter turnout in the election increased from 26,024 to 26,557.

Individual poll results for Manitoulin Island are not available from the Elections Ontario office until June 18, too late for this week’s Expositor deadline.

“I am very pleased and humbled with the results,” said Mr. Mantha. “I am privileged for being chosen by the people of Algoma-Manitoulin as their representative and I am looking forward to rolling up my sleeves and getting back to work at Queen’s Park.”

Mr. Mantha said that his priorities are “not going to waver from what I campaigned on, making life more affordable for the people of Algoma-Manitoulin. That is what I heard on the doorsteps, people are having a hard time making ends meet,” he said. “It is going to be a little bit more difficult, but that will make me work all the harder.”

The majority government does not intimidate him, however. “I have prided myself on the bridges that I have built with the other parties during the minority,” he said. “I will continue to make sure the benefits and needs of Algoma-Manitoulin are met.”

“You voted for jobs, you voted for growth. Thank you for voting to build Ontario up,” an exuberant Premier Wynne said during her victory speech before a packed crowd at Toronto’s downtown Sheraton Centre. “We are going to build Ontario up for everyone in this province, everyone. We’re not going to leave anyone behind.”

The Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities (FONOM) congratulated the Liberal Party on winning a majority and earning the opportunity to govern the Province of Ontario once again in a press release.

“FONOM looks forward to ensuring that the promises made within the budget and during the campaign are realized,” reads the release. “These commitments include implementing a permanent roads and bridges fund for municipalities, efforts toward four-laning highways in Northern Ontario, reviewing the Provincial Land Tax, exploration of opportunities to develop agriculture in the north, and address the rising costs of policing in Ontario.”

“We will look to build on the relationship that we have made with the Wynne government,” said Al Spacek, FONOM president. “FONOM will continue to hold the governing party accountable to commitments that have been made to the North.”

“The 60,000 Anishinabek living in Ontario want to congratulate Premier Wynne on her impressive election victory,” said Anishinabek Nation (Union of Ontario Indians) Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee in release following the Liberal victory. “Her minority government has listened to our plans to create our own institutions in areas like education and child welfare. A majority government should give them the confidence to support our efforts to make these things happen.”

Grand Chief Madahbee credited the Liberal government with modernizing the province’s mining act for the first time in over a century.

“If they honour the Crown’s duty to consult and accommodate First Nations interests in commercial activities on their territories, this could translate into benefits from sustainable natural resource development,” he said. “Premier Wynne has an opportunity to ensure that First Nations share in the wealth and job creation generated from such projects as the Ring of Fire ore body, and that the developments are carried out in a way that provides protection for our traditional lands.”

The Grand Council Chief also pointed out “a majority government in Ontario should expedite action on the 100 recommendations of the Ipperwash Inquiry into the 1995 shooting death of unarmed Anishinabek protester Dudley George.”

“The Liberals have made strides in creating more information about the treaty relationship in Ontario school curriculum,” continued Grand Chief Madahbee. “Now they have the opportunity to work with us to provide certainty for First Nations policing and co-management in a number of Natural Resource areas. First Nations are willing to work with any government that respects our rights, helps protect our lands, and keeps their treaty commitments to us.”