Windsor-Essex has no members in Ontario Liberal majority
NDP sweep all three local ridings and PCs took Chatham-Kent-Essex
For the first time in more than a decade, neither Windsor nor Essex County will have a sitting member of provincial government.
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The NDP swept three ridings in Windsor-Essex Thursday night. The wins include an upset in Windsor West where first-time candidate Lisa Gretzky beat Teresa Piruzza, the only Liberal incumbent to not retain their seat.
In electing Gretzky, Windsor West voters ousted a cabinet minister who, if she had won, would have been part of a Liberal majority.
"It’s probably not the best news because we’re missing a member sitting in the government and someone at the cabinet table. It’s going to be much more difficult to get our voice heard," University of Windsor political science professor Cheryl Collier said.
With all ridings reporting, Liberals were elected or leading in 59 constituencies to 27 for the Progressive Conservatives and 21 for the NDP. A party needs 54 seats to win a majority.
Heavyweight ministers long gone
Windsor hasn't just had MPPs in Queen's Park in the past, it's had high-ranking cabinet ministers.
Former Windsor-Tecumseh Liberal MPP Dwight Duncan was named Minister of Energy in 2003, before eventually becoming the Minister of Finance under former premier Dalton McGuinty.
In 2004, Windsor West MPP Liberal Sandra Pupatello, who held the seat for 12 years, was named to cabinet.
Premier Kathleen Wynne last year named Pupatello’s protégé, Piruzza, the Minister of Children and Youth Services.
Liberals have been losing seats from London down through the last two elections.
Pupatello, now the CEO of the Windsor Essex Economic Development Company, said she will have to "work a little harder" to keep the government's attention.
She's not worried about being completely ignored, though.
It could work in our favour.- Sandra Pupatello, WEEDC CEO
"If they don’t have representation, sometimes they want to start chasing that region because they want to get representation," Pupatello said of political parties in general. "It could work in our favour."
Essex NDP MPP Taras Natyshak, who ran away with the win Thursday, says based on past history, he was already concerned with the attention Liberals paid to Windsor-Essex, even with Piruzza in cabinet.
"They've shown they have a track record of forgetting Essex County and Windsor and southwestern Ontario, no matter what the makeup of the legislature. They were looking to move thoracic surgery out of our region,” Natyshak said. “So there's no question I'm confident that our voice will be quite loud and quite prominent, when it comes to the issues that we need addressed."
Fabion Constante is a community organizer in Windsor West. He isn't sure the Liberals will pay close enough attention to the region.
Friday, Wynne said she would govern "one Ontario."
“We have to work very hard so people in those constituencies understand we are working for them,” Wynne said of non-Liberal ridings.
Wynne noted some regions were hit hard by the 2008 recession. Windsor was one of them.
“We need to redouble our efforts [in those areas] so that people across the province take part in that recovery,” Wynne said.
Leamington Mayor John Paterson said the Tory and NDP MPPs in the area are strong — PC Rick Nichols won the Chatham-Kent-Essex riding — but they'll have to work hard to keep the government's attention here.
"I think it strikes fear in a lot of municipal politicians in our area that we don't have contact — direct contact — or representation with the government,” Paterson said. “But hopefully they will be able to raise a loud enough voice in parliament to make sure we aren't forgotten."