Thank you to everyone who voted for John Milloy!
While not news anymore, I want to put these comments into context by posting the results:
- John Milloy, Liberal: 15,392
- Dave MacDonald, PC: 15,069
- Cameron Dearlove, NDP: 7,384
Milloy won by 323 votes. Every vote counted. Elections are fought to help ensure that your candidate ends up on the winner of a narrow result rather tha come in second by a hair. People who made their decision based upon the race in Kitchener Centre and the candidates running made the difference. This was not a race that was decided by provincial or even regional trends. If you voted for John Milloy, you helped ensure that Waterloo Region would continue to have a strong, effective voice in the Ontario government–someone with a proven record of delivering results.
I hope that I helped persuade some of you to vote for him instead of other progressive candidates. As the results show, I was right to say that in Kitchener Centre the choice was between the Liberals and the Progressive Conservatives. The historic base for each party held strong. I won’t try to take credit for the victory but I am happy that what I did during the campaign helped to make a difference. If just 327 people, deciding between the Liberals and another progressive candidate, switched their vote, we would have lost our strongest advocate in Queen’s Park in a generation with little in return. If all those votes had gone NDP that party would still have finished a distant third.
I’ll give Cameron Dearlove and his campaign team including Peter Thurley credit. They ran a good campaign and were rewarded with the best results in the riding since the NDP sweep of Ontario in 1990. I was particularly impressed with how Dearlove stuck to his ideals and ran the positive campaign that he promised when nominated. He’ll be an even better candidate if he chooses to run again. Time will tell whether the party’s base has grown but it still appears that it will be some time before the riding features a strong three-way race or one where the NDP is the primary alternative to a right wing agenda.
The results in Kitchener Centre mirrored the tight race at the provincial level and reinforced the bell weather nature of the riding. Seldom over the last 30 years has the riding not supported the winning party federally or provincially. I’m disappointed to concede that John Milloy is not yet a politician that has transcended partisan politics and who is elected because of who he is and what he has done. If he was, he would have easily won by a wider margin. On the other hand, I think that he definitely received votes from people who recognized his strengths as a person and the results he delivered and voted for him where they might not otherwise have voted Liberal. I hope that I helped some of you to make that choice. Thank you!
Milloy’s new challenges
When the new cabinet was announced, the news all centred on John Milloy’s new role as House Leader. While it is true that it is a critical position in a minority government, I am more excited about his appointment as Minister of Community & Social Services. I am excited in part because it was the ministry where John Sweeney made his mark because we were both big Sweeney supporters. Unfortunately, Harris government destroyed the advances Sweeney made such as a reform of the welfare system that made it easier to get off social assistance. Now it’s Milloy’s chance as the Social Assistance Review Commission completes its work. I am optimistic because I know from what he has said at Opportunities Waterloo Region events that John cares about people living in poverty and gets what’s necessary to help them get off assistance.
As an aside, I am optimistic about the Commission’s work because among its staff is Michael Oliphant, my supervisor at the Daily Bread Food Bank. I know how Michael thinks. He was an early and strong advocate for the Ontario Child Benefit. Daily Bread takes a pragmatic approach to poverty reduction. It now is a force behind the Ontario Housing Benefit. So I expect the commission to produce results that caring, pragmatic politicians–who like Dalton McGuinty don’t want to leave anyone behind–can support and implement.
A final note, Milloy’s job as House Leader could become a lot easier if PC MPP Frank Klees is successful in his quest to become Speaker. While I’m sure John has the people and political skills to excel in the position, the more time he can devote to his ministry the better from my perspective.