The results of the recent provincial election were not particularly surprising, given the historic voting patterns in Eastern Ontario, and especially in this Riding. Aside from the first four years following Confederation, Leeds-Grenville has never elected anything other than a Conservative member of the Provincial Legislature. Steve Clark has proven himself to be a well-liked and respected representative, even among those who are not Conservative Party supporters.
Although it was thought by some that David Henderson would be the strongest opposition yet to face Steve, the deep unpopularity of the Liberal Party of Ontario after fifteen years of government, was always going to be a problem the mayor of Brockville would have to face. It was assumed that the Brockville district would be the main source of support for David Henderson, and the northern parts of the Riding, particularly North Grenville and Merrickville-Wolford, would stand firmly with Steve Clark.
Overall, Steve Clark won the seat easily, attracting 29,996 votes, of which 5,372 came in these two municipalities. In contrast, David Henderson’s total vote in the same area amounted to just over 1,200. In fact, between the two municipalities, the Liberal candidate beat the NDP’s Michelle Taylor in only one polling station. The NDP have been quietly building their support in the Riding over the past few elections, and Michell Taylor’s vote of 9,669 put her well ahead of the Liberal’s 6,543.
In these two municipalities, the NDP gathered up 1,800 votes. The Green Party candidate, Derek Morley, won the support of 494 voters, while the Libertarian Party’s Bill Buckley got just 81 votes locally, and 389 across the Riding.
Steve Clark supporters were especially enthusiastic, and turned out in large numbers in the advance polls, where he won 1,100 votes, compared to 240 for Michelle Taylor, 140 for David Henderson, 43 for Derek Morley, and 4 for Bill Buckley. This was most significant, as many traditional Conservatives had agonised over their support for Steve versus their uncertainty over his party leader, Doug Ford. Steve’s personal following proved stronger than any doubts on that score.
Now the Conservatives are in power and it remains to be seen where Steve Clark will fit into the new Premier’s plans. Having been Deputy Leader of the party in the last Legislature, it is going to be interesting to see where he lands in any new cabinet under Ford. There are very many who hope that this change in administration will result in more benefits for this Riding, especially when it comes to funding of infrastructure projects such as the Highway 43 expansion.