Thunder Bay

Conservative incumbent Eric Melillo re-elected in Kenora

The northwestern Ontario riding of Kenora will stay blue after Conservative incumbent Eric Melillo was re-elected to the House of Commons early Tuesday morning.
Eric Melillo, who was the Conservative's youngest-ever elected Member of Parliament in 2019, was re-elected Monday night in the northwestern Ontario riding of Kenora. (CBC News)

The northwestern Ontario riding of Kenora will stay blue after Conservative incumbent Eric Melillo was re-elected to the House of Commons.

Melillo was the Conservative's youngest-ever elected Member of Parliament when he won the riding at 21 years old in 2019. 

"I'm excited and honoured by the opportunity to continue to serve our region, and I'm looking forward to joining our strong opposition to hold this government to account once again," he told CBC News in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

He added the dominant theme of the campaign was around post-pandemic economic recovery, and that will be his top priority when he heads back to Ottawa.

"The most immediate priority is getting to work to ensure there's proper support in place for our tourism and our small businesses, the forestry and mining sectors, and really just the industries across our region that has been so badly impacted by the pandemic," Melillo said.

He added a number of other priorities include investments in infrastructure, including rural broadband and ending boil water advisories in First Nations, and an immediate implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation calls to action 71 to 76, which address missing children and unmarked burials connected to the residential school system.

CBC News projected the win against the NDP's Janine Seymour, who was vying to be the first female and first Indigenous representative elected in the riding.

Melillo had received more than 10,300 votes, as of 1 a.m. CT with 146 of 150 polls reported, while Seymour was in second place with nearly 7,400 votes.

Seymour was leading by hundreds of votes early on during election night, but as more polling stations began reporting their results shortly after 10 p.m. CT, Melillo pulled ahead, quickly building a lead of more than 1,000 votes.

The Conservative candidate also beat a number of other first-time candidates, including Craig Martin with the People's Party, and the Green Party's Remi Rheault. David Bruno, who carried the Liberal banner, had previously run in the 2018 provincial election for the Northern Ontario Party.

As of 1:00 a.m. CT, with 146 polls reporting:

  • Eric Melillo, Conservative: 10,314 votes
  • Janine Seymour, New Democrat: 7,375 votes
  • David Bruno, Liberal: 4,797 votes
  • Craig Martin, People's Party: 1,558 votes
  • Remi Rheault, Green: 347 votes

The race in Kenora has been historically a tight contest, with the election night victor often winning by a margin of 2,000 votes or less.

As of Sunday night, more than 1,900 people from the Kenora riding had requested a mail-in ballot, with about 1,600 already being returned, according to statistics provided by Elections Canada.

But this year's election night was marred by confusion over voter card errors and no election day polling stations in three remote First Nations.

The riding was included in a list by the Assembly of First Nations as one of 24 ridings across the country where First Nations voters could decide the outcome of the election, with the AFN saying about one-third of the electors in the riding are First Nations.