PCs win Windsor-Tecumseh and Essex, while NDP retains Windsor West
Lisa Gretzky will continue as an NDP MPP, while 2 other orange ridings turn blue
Voters in Essex and Windsor-Tecumseh have elected Progressive Conservative candidates for the first time in decades, CBC News projects.
Both seats were previously held by the NDP.
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Former Amherstburg deputy mayor Anthony Leardi is projected to win in Essex, and Tecumseh town councillor Andrew Dowie is projected to win in Windsor-Tecumseh.
"I want to thank the voters in the county of Essex for choosing me to be your representative at Queens Park," Leardi said in a speech.
Anthony Leardi takes Essex for the PCs! <a href="https://t.co/gq1KN6q69j">pic.twitter.com/gq1KN6q69j</a>—@KatGeorgieva
Dowie said he received "an education like no other" while speaking with residents during the campaign.
"I can't wait to get started on the many issues that were brought to my attention, and to try to make things better, not just here in Windsor-Tecumseh but across Ontario," he said.
Though riding boundaries have changed over the years, the last time voters chose a PC MPP in either area was six decades ago. The results follow a strong push from the PCs to pick up seats in this region.
PC Leader Doug Ford, who visited the region several times during the campaign, made an appeal to voters Monday, saying Windsor-Essex needs a seat at the table at Queen's Park.
"It's time to paint Windsor-Essex blue in '22," he said.
CBC News is projecting a strong PC majority for Ford's second term.
The party is also retaining a seat in Chatham-Kent—Leamington. Leamington councillor Trevor Jones is projected to win that seat over incumbent candidate Rick Nicholls, who was kicked out of the Tory caucus and ran under the banner of the Ontario Party.
The NDP's Lisa Gretzky, who was first elected in 2014, is projected to win her seat in Windsor West, though by a narrower margin.
She was facing off against high-profile challengers including lawyer Linda McCurdy and John Leontowicz, the former police chief in LaSalle.
The NDP is projected to lose seats, though leader Andrea Horwath has won her seat in Hamilton. Later in the evening, Horwath announced she would be stepping down as NDP leader.
"I think that people are still looking to us to now be the conscience of the government, to do what we have been doing to hold the government to account for the cuts they've been making to public health care, to public education, to have them take the profit out of long-term care and put the care into long-term care," Gretzky said.
In both Windsor-Tecumseh and Essex, the incumbent candidates were not seeking reelection.
In December, Essex NDP MPP Taras Natyshak announced he would not run in the 2022 election after serving in the riding since 2011.
The party had tapped Ron LeClair, a school trustee and former police officer, as they looked to hold onto the seat.
Manpreet Brar ran for the Liberal Party. She is an IT professional and active volunteer.
NDP MPP Percy Hatfield, who picked up the Windsor-Tecumseh nearly a decade ago in a 2013 byelection, announced last year that he was not seeking re-election this time around.
Dowie was up against Liberal candidate and Windsor city councillor Gary Kaschak and the NDP's Gemma Grey-Hall, who works at the University of Windsor, among other candidates.
Cabinet minister Monte McNaughton, who represents Lambton-Kent Middlesex, is also projected to win his seat.
In Sarnia-Lambton, longtime MPP Bob Bailey is also projected to clinch another term.
Trend of low voter turnout continues
Windsor West and Windsor-Tecumseh had some of the lowest turnouts in the 2018 provincial election, and the trend continued for this year's vote.
With 100 per cent of polls reporting, 40.3 per cent of those eligible cast a ballot in Windsor-Tecumseh, compared with 47.8 per cent in the last election, according to unofficial results.
Grey-Hall said that the turnout presents an opportunity to highlight the importance of education on civics and politics, saying that many people are angry but don't know where to place that anger.
"I think it's important that people know that they can make their voice heard through the ballot box," she said.
In Windsor West, turnout was pegged at about 32.8 per cent, with 100 per cent of polls reporting. In 2018, 43.3 per cent of those eligible cast a ballot, the lowest of any riding in Ontario.
with files from Kaitie Fraser, Jason Viau, Katerina Georgieva, Chris Ensing and Jacob Barker