THUNDER BAY – After 27 years under Liberal red, Thunder Bay-Superior North has been coloured orange.The NDP’s Lise Vaugeois, who narrowly lost to long-time Liberal MPP and cabinet minister Michael Gravelle four years ago, knocked off Conservative challenger Peng You, a popular Thunder Bay city councillor, to take the riding by 800 votes, with all 90 polls reporting.Liberal Shelby Ch’ng, a last-minute replacement for Gravelle, who stepped aside for health reasons, took third place, some 1,438 votes behind Vaugeois. The Green Party’s Tracey MacKinnon was a distant fourth, with three per cent of the vote.Vaugeois said she knows she’s got big shoes to fill, but is up for the task to champion Northwestern Ontario at Queen’s Park.“It’s getting out there, spending time in every part of the region, talking to people, which is what we’ve been doing, but it’s doing it more and then bringing those ideas back to Queen’s Park and making sure we can find solutions that actually work for our communities,” Vaugeois said.
It’s not going to be easy, she acknowledged.“It’s going to be a challenge. There’s no point in sugar-coating that part of it. But I am prepared to fight. I’m small, but very mighty and I will fight tooth and nail to make sure this region gets what it deserves and what it needs,” Vaugeois said.
Affordable housing and health care top her list of priorities to push for once she’s sworn in as a member of the legislature as the riding’s first NDP representative.
It was a disappointing night for You, who captured 30.9 per cent of the vote to finish in second.You, who topped all vote-getters in the 2018 municipal election to soar into an at-large seat, said it was tough to work so hard on the campaign, which he began more than a year ago, to come up short.
“I really thought people wanted change,” said You, who did not commit to running municipally in October.
“It is what it is, the result. I congratulate every candidate for their time and effort to the public service.”Ch’ng, who represents the Northwood ward at city hall, said it was a rushed campaign, with just three-and-a-half weeks to prepare when Gravelle announced he was stepping down.“I knew I was coming in as an underdog,” said Ch’ng, who also left her political future up in the air.
“We didn’t have official party status. Our leader was fighting for his seat as well. I’m just happy that all my friends came out and supported me. It was probably the most alive I’ve felt in the last two years.”
Losing a long-time Liberal seat was also a disappointment for a party that once again won’t have official party status, with just eight seats, one more than they had a dissolution, and in search of a new party leader.“Lise fought a great fight and it’s sad for the Liberals. I’m actually quite disappointed at the voter turnout,” Ch’ng said.Vaugeois, while disappointed that NDP incumbent Judith Monteith-Farrell lost to Conservative Kevin Holland in Thunder Bay-Atikokan, said she’s glad at least one member of the government will have a clear understanding of the needs in Northwestern Ontario.
“I’ll say I’m disappointed that Judith won’t be there. I know I’ll get a lot of advice and guidance from Judith. I really respect the experience she’s gotten over the past four years, but I’m also happy to work with Kevin Holland. If we both have the interest of the region at heart we’ll be able to work well together.”The Conservatives, under Doug Ford, won a resounding majority, taking 83 of the 124 seats. The NDP won 31 and the Green Party took one seat. Both Liberal leader Steven Del Duca and NDP Leader Andrea Horwath announced they were stepping down from their posts.
Thunder Bay-Superior North results
- Lise Vaugeois (NDP) - 8,404 (34.12%)Peng You (Conservative) - 7,604 (30.87%)Shelby Ch'ng (Liberal) - 6,966 (28.28%)
- Tracey MacKinnon (Green) - 738 (3.00%) Stephen Hufnagel (ONP) - 338 (1.37%)
- Kathy Suutari (NBP) - 314 (1.27%) Andy Wolff (NRT) - 145 (0.59%)
- Adam Cherry (CNS) - 125 (0.5%)