Election in Ontario: three new MPs for the London region with 10 ridings, but the party scoreboard remains unchanged

A bright orange core amidst a progressive-conservative core.

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A bright orange core amidst a progressive-conservative core.

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London’s three main urban ridings remained in New Democrat hands, while the seven out-of-town ridings elected Progressive Conservative candidates on Thursday – the same regional split as in Ontario’s last election in 2018.

The unchanged outcome in the region – the beleaguered Liberals coming third in eight districts across the region – came as Doug Ford’s PCs won a government with an even bigger majority than four years ago, winning seats in the Greater Toronto Area and Windsor to win the first consecutive Conservative majority governments in 23 years.

Yet Ford’s majority push could not penetrate the NDP’s orange fortress in London.

“The three NDP candidates were known quantities, which always works to the advantage of the candidates,” said Andrea Lawlor, a political scientist at King’s University College, an affiliate of Western University.

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“Was Ford speaking directly to London this campaign? Maybe not as much. I think he was really focused on the GTA and the 905″ belt around Toronto. “He knew there were seats up for grabs there, as it appeared London was a bit more stable in supporting left-leaning or progressive parties.”

The election results, which were delayed in Sarnia-Lambton and Perth-Wellington due to technical difficulties at two polling stations, strengthen the Conservatives’ grip in much of southwestern Ontario.

Oxford has been owned by the same Tory MP, Ernie Hardeman, since 1995 – the longest of any London-area constituency. The Conservatives knocked out Sarnia-Lambton from the Liberals in 2007, with the five remaining London-area constituencies turning Conservative blue in the 2011 election.

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In three London-area constituencies voters elected the same party as last time but with different faces, meaning three new MPs headed to Queen’s Park under the same PC banner as before.

Rob Flack won Elgin-Middlesex-London for the Conservatives, a seat vacated by 11-year-old Tory MP Jeff Yurek in February.

Bob Bailey of the Progressive Conservative Party speaks shortly after winning a fifth consecutive term in Sarnia-Lambton, Thursday, June 2, 2022. Terry Bridge/Sarnia Observer/Postmedia Network
Bob Bailey of the Progressive Conservative Party speaks shortly after winning a fifth consecutive term in Sarnia-Lambton, Thursday, June 2, 2022. Terry Bridge/Sarnia Observer/Postmedia Network

PC candidate Matthew Rae won an open race in Perth-Wellington, succeeding retired Conservative MP Randy Pettapiece in the Stratford area constituency. Precinct results were delayed after technical difficulties kept a polling place open until 10:20 p.m. Elections Ontario does not release precinct results until all polls in the precinct are closed.

PC candidate Trevor Jones grabbed the seat of Chatham-Kent-Leamington, an urban-rural seat that has been the scene of vicious political clashes between the Liberals and the NDP during the campaign.

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The seat belonged to former Conservative Rick Nicholls in the last Parliament. Nicholls was kicked out of the PC caucus last August for refusing the COVID-19 vaccine and ran for re-election as a candidate for the Ontario Party, a low-rise conservative party led by the former MP curator Derek Sloan.

The Ontario Party and the New Blue Party, another new party vying for political right votes, do not appear to have had a major impact on races in the region.

Of the 10 ridings in the London area, the Ontario Party’s best performance was Chatham-Kent-Leamington, where it received about 15% of the vote and 98% of the polls. The New Blue Party’s best performance was in Sarnia-Lambton with approximately 7% of the vote and 85% of the polls.

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Southwestern Ontario’s predominantly rural ridings shifted from Liberal red to Conservative blue in the 2010s, spurred on by several major political trends, said Cristine De Clercy, a political scientist at Western University. They’ve remained reliable PC strongholds ever since — with conservatives often winning by double-digit margins — for several reasons, she said.

“Over the last eight to ten years at least, the federal government has become more interested in climate regulation. These policies are significantly less popular in rural areas. . . . Part of the policy mix is ​​likely bolstering the PC party’s popularity in rural Ontario,” De Clercy said, adding that views on the pandemic response would also have helped cement Conservative support outside. from London.

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“There seemed to be big differences between rural and urban populations and how they felt about the role of government during COVID.”

Lawlor said the blue belt in southwestern Ontario is also a reflection of a general political culture or identity in many rural areas.

While the Liberals have increased their vote share in the London area this election – the party won less than 10% of the vote in seven of 10 constituencies in 2018 – it came third in all constituencies except Oxford, where the Grits were the runner-up. Candidate Grits in Chatham-Kent-Leamington has pulled out of the race amid a scandal over nomination signatures.

The party was on track to win eight seats across the province, which was not enough to regain official party status in the Legislative Assembly.

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“The Liberals’ disastrous night in Ontario was kind of mirrored in the ridings of London. They should have done better and they didn’t,” said De Clercy.

“Liberals had a near-death experience in 2018. Perhaps their expectations that they could easily get back on their horses and return to the Legislative Assembly and assume the role of official opposition may have overstated the amount of work they need to rebuild trust in the eyes of voters.

Even though the Southwestern Ontario political scoreboard at Queen’s Park is unchanged, Lawlor said the election remains a critically important exercise for democracy.

“It is an absolutely necessary activity for community development and civil society. Even when the overall outcome does not change, it is important that Ontarians go to the polls and assert their preferences,” she said.

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Clyde P. Johnson