NDP Win Blocks Liberal Majority
Premier Dalton McGuinty's hopes of forming the majority government the Liberals missed by just one seat last October were
dashed Thursday by voters in one of two Ontario byelections.
The Liberals were able to hold Vaughan, the riding just north of Toronto vacated by former finance minister Greg Sorbara, with Steven Del Duca taking 50 per cent of the popular vote to easily defeat Conservative Tony Genco.
The NDP was a distant third.
However, Kitchener-Waterloo turned into a close three-way race, with New Democrat Catherine Fife emerging to win the large, urban riding for the first time in the party's history.
Fife had about 40 per cent of the vote with over 130 out of 265 polling stations reporting, compared with 32 per cent for the
Conservatives and 23 per cent for the Liberals.
McGuinty engineered the byelection by appointing veteran Progressive Conservative 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.
Backed by support from teachers and public sector workers angry with the Liberals for trying to impose a two-year wage freeze, Fife, a popular school trustee, came from behind to take the riding about 90 minutes southwest of Toronto.
PC Leader Tim Hudak had downplayed expectations, calling Kitchener-Waterloo more of an Elizabeth Witmer riding than a Tory
riding, and with an NDP win preventing a Liberal majority, he won't face challenges to his leadership for failing to hold the seat.
The Tories and NDP had urged voters not to give the Liberals a majority, accusing McGuinty of picking a fight with teachers to
distract from the scandal at the Ornge air ambulance service and the $190-million cost of shutting down a generating station days before last fall's election to save Liberal seats in the Mississauga area.
Library technician Joe Walsh, 53, said he voted for Fife, noting the teachers' unions weren't about to turn to the Conservatives, who want to get even tougher with the wage freeze than the Liberals.
``This is historically a very blue Tory riding, but Hudak's really's got the teachers on his back now, and there's nowhere for
McGuinty supporters to get except NDP.''
Dan Kaye, 26, an environmental services manager at a local hospital, said he voted for the Tories in the Oct. 6 election, but
voted for Fife Thursday because of her fiscal credentials.
``(With) her proven track record as a school board trustee to balance the budget...we need a good money manager for this region, and I thought she'd be the best candidate,'' said Kaye.
Derek Crozier, 40, a financial adviser and long-standing Progressive Conservative supporter, voted for Tory candidate Tracey
``It was really an anybody-but-Liberal kind of vote tonight,'' he said.
Byelections are traditionally an opportunity for voters to show their displeasure with governments.