PC Party takes historic victories across Windsor region


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The Progressive Conservative Party made local history Thursday night, taking all but one of four ridings in the region and installing MPPs in Essex County for the first time since the 1960s.

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The only local holdout was MPP Lisa Gretzky (NDP), who reclaimed Windsor West, where she was first elected in 2014. But even there it was a relatively close race with the PC’s John Leontowicz on her heels in second place.

The PC Party scored major victories, flipping ridings that were previously NDP strongholds. Anthony Leardi seized Essex with a massive victory and Andrew Dowie took a big win in Windsor-Tecumseh.

“It means I can help more people,” said Dowie, a Tecumseh town councilor since 2014 who will now make the leap to Queen’s Park. “Not just in my neighbourhood, but tens of thousands of people on a day-to-day basis and work to make their lives better. It’s incredibly meaningful to me to have that opportunity. A sincere thanks to the voters for their trust in me. I will work to serve them extremely well and deliver in every way possible.”

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It was obvious shortly after the polls closed at 9 pm that Doug Ford and the PC Party would sail to an easy provincial victory, clinching another majority government.

PC Party candidates also took early leads across Essex County. The PC’s Trevor Jones held on to Chatham-Kent—Leamington after former MPP Rick Nicholls was turfed from the party.

Newly elected Trevor Jones is seen with his son Alex, left, wife Najet, and son Nico.
Newly elected Trevor Jones is seen with his son Alex, left, wife Najet, and son Nico. Photo by TOM MORRISON /post media

In Essex, Leardi took a commanding victory over runner-up Ron LeClair (NDP).

“We’re a party working for workers,” said Leardi, the former deputy mayor of Amherstburg. “We’re going to work for everyone.” He also pointed out that Essex has not had a conservative representative at the provincial level for six decades.

“This moment is a historic moment,” said Leardi. “Tonight we turned Essex blue in ’22.”

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Shortly after the polls closed in Windsor-Tecumseh, the race was between PC Andrew Dowie and the NDP’s Gemma Grey-Hall. The two briefly traded first and second places before Dowie took the lead and never looked back.

In Windsor West, incumbent Lisa Gretzky (NDP) had the lead as soon as the polls closed and never let it go. The PC Party’s John Leontowicz came second, with Liberal Linda McCurdy placing a distant third.

Essex MPP elect Anthony Leardi (PC) celebrates with his family after having been declared the victor at his campaign headquarters in Amherstburg on Thursday, June 2, 2022.
Essex MPP elect Anthony Leardi (PC) celebrates with his family after having been declared the victor at his campaign headquarters in Amherstburg on Thursday, June 2, 2022. Photo by Taylor Campbell /Windsor Star

Green candidate Krysta Glovasky-Ridsdale placed fifth in Windsor West, but she still counted her efforts to raise the party’s profile as a win.

“I think there were a lot of people who… think we’re only about the environment,” she said. “We’re only about solar panels. We’re only about hugging trees. But the truth is, we do have a full financial platform. Let’s take a look at what’s not working, where are we putting money that’s not working? And let’s find out what the better solution will be.”

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While it wasn’t initially obvious a blue tide would sweep across the county, one thing was certain going into Thursday’s election: when the smoke cleared and the victory celebrations began, the ridings of Essex and Windsor-Tecumseh would have new MPPs.

Windsor-Tecumseh incumbent Percy Hatfield and Essex incumbent Taras Natyshak, both NDP members, didn’t run this year.

PC candidate, Andrew Dowie, greets his supporters at The Bourbon Tap & Grill Tecumseh after being declared the winner in Windsor-Tecumseh, on Thursday, June 2, 2022.
PC candidate, Andrew Dowie, greets his supporters at The Bourbon Tap & Grill Tecumseh after being declared the winner in Windsor-Tecumseh, on Thursday, June 2, 2022. Photo by Dax Melmer /Windsor Star

Ron LeClair stepped in for Natyshak in Essex and placed a distant second to Leardi. Gemma Grey-Hall picked up the banner for Hatfield, and also suffered a considerable defeat to Dowie.

It was a crowded field in all four Windsor area ridings, with six hopefuls running in Windsor West, seven people squaring off in Essex, and 10 candidates on the ballot in Windsor-Tecumseh.

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There were five candidates running in Chatham-Kent-Leamington — one less than there was a week ago. The campaign in that riding was full of twists and turns from the start.

The Liberal party began the campaign with no candidate in Chatham-Kent-Leamington, then found one with Alec Mazurek. But they cut him loose after it was revealed that he posted anti-gay slurs on Facebook as a teenager.

His last-minute replacement was Audrey Festeryga. But she withdrew within days after the NDP accused the Liberals of recycling Mazurek’s nomination papers for her.

The PC Party also faced a sticky situation in the Chatham-Kent-Leamington. Rick Nicholls had ruled the riding as a Progressive Conservative MPP for 11 years, but the PCs kicked him out of the party last year for refusing to take a COVID-19 vaccination.

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The PCs ran Trevor Jones as their candidate in this election and he won easily. But Nicholls didn’t go quietly.

NDP MPP Lisa Gretzky is seen on election night Thursday, June 2, 2022 after her re-election.
NDP MPP Lisa Gretzky is seen on election night Thursday, June 2, 2022 after her re-election. Photo by Dan Janisse /Windsor Star

After telling the Star late last year he wasn’t planning to seek re-election, Nicholls appeared on the ballot for the upstart Ontario Party, a right-wing rival. He suffered a huge loss, coming in third and thousands of votes behind Jones and Brock McGregor from the NDP.

Regardless of their political leanings, health care and inflation emerged as some of the major concerns for voters across all local ridings.

“At the top of their minds was access to health care, be it community care, home care or long-term care,” Gretzky said Thursday before the votes were tallied. “There was a lot of discussion on that.

“The other big issue was overall affordability. Lot’s of them dream of their kids owning their own home or the kids dream that themselves. More and more they feel that’s not possible, along with the rising costs of electricity and groceries.”

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