CORNWALL – It’s arguably one of the safest ridings for an Ontario PC candidate, and election night Thurs., June 7 continued the trend.

Stormont, Dundas, and South Glengarry MPP Jim McDonell is heading back to Queen’s Park, having easily defeated his competitors.

In all, the now three-time elected provincial politician garnered 26,780 votes in his favour, topping out at 61.51 per cent of the total votes, a 17,364 margin from his nearest competitor, the NDP’s Marc Benoit.

Despite the loss, it was a positive showing for Benoit, who netted 9,416 votes (21.63 per cent), and his party is now the official opposition in Ontario’s legislature.

Stormont, Dundas, and South Glengarry MPP Jim McDonell is heading back to Queen’s Park following a decision election victory Thurs., June 7. Press Photo – Uhrig

Liberal support throughout the province cratered, and it was no different in this riding, as Heather Megill finished a distant third, taking just 5,386 votes. Hers is one of many Liberal losses throughout Ontario, as the party will send just seven members back to Queen’s Park, losing official party status.

The Green Party’s Elaine Kennedy was fourth, with 1,596 votes, and Libertarian contender Sabile Trimm was fifth with 360 votes.

For McDonell, the victor who gathered with family, friends, and other allies to watch results roll in at Cornwall’s Ramada Inn, the election win was welcome, but his party’s choice to lead the province forward was the real reward.

“What a win! What a great night,” he said. “We finally got the majority government that I think this province needs. Now, it’s going to be a tough job, but we’re going to get in there and make the changes necessary to bring this province back. We’ve been talking for a long time for the need for change, and I think that’s what this election was all about.”

When meeting with local media, McDonell said his party will be eager to get Ontario “humming along again,” and attracting business back to a province that is becoming a popular place to leave.

“I used to hear members say ‘what happened to when businesses used to come to Ontario?’ It’ll be tough, but our effort is to make that happen again,” he said.

McDonnell is heading back to Queen’s Park with a wealth of PC colleagues, especially in Eastern Ontario where Steve Clark was re-elected in Leeds-Grenville, Goldie Ghamari won in the new Carleton riding, and Amanda Simard handily beat back the competition in Glengarry-Prescott-Russell.

The party also forms government with a new leader in former Toronto city councillor Doug Ford, who won the top job after the oust of Patrick Brown and was elected in the Etobicoke North riding.

Ford, no doubt, has a colourful past, with countless accusations of bully tactics and a criminal history, but McDonell said it’s important to truly get to know him.

“There is certainly a lot of people talking about him, but even when we met, in caucus, he wasn’t the person they were portraying,” he said. “When people get a chance to see him without the pressure of an election going and people putting words in his mouth, I think they’ll get a different impression, and everybody will be very impressed with the direction he takes. He’s very common sense and laid back. He’s not the person I’ve been listening to the other leaders talking about… Some of those things, even I rolled my eyes. He’s very professional, and very successful in the company he runs – the people where he is from love him.”

So, what’s next locally? What becomes of the Nation Rise Wind Farm, a project long-condemned by area residents.

“[Ford] has committed to opening up any contract… But final approval came a week before the election,” McDonell said. “I find that disingenuous [of Liberals]… That close to an election, you think you’d leave those decisions [to the next government].”