CORNWALL – “We did it!” said Eric Duncan who handily won the Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry federal election race to become the next MP for this riding.
Conservative MP Duncan will replace his former boss retired MP Guy Lauzon.
When the very first polling station results were reported it was quickly evident that the Duncan victory many had expected was going to unfold throughout the evening.
By the time all 250 polls reported results Eric Duncan had captured 54.2 per cent of the vote here in SDSG. Liberal Heather Megill finished second with 25.5 per cent of the vote followed by NDP Kelsey Catherine Schmitz (14.2 per cent), Green Raheem Ahman (3.4 per cent) and People’s Party Sabile Trimm (2.2 per cent).
Voter turnout here was 62.86 percent, down about five per cent from the 2015 federal election.
MP-elect Duncan will join the House of Commons governed by a Liberal Minority.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s party won 157 seats, down from the 2015 election when they formed a majority government.
While the Liberal’s 157 seats are enough to form a Liberal Minority government, the Conservatives captured more of the popular vote – 34.4 per cent compared to the Liberal’s 33.1 per cent.
About 200 people packed Duncan’s victory party at the Cornwall Ramada Inn awaiting the Oct. 21st election results.
SDSG polls closed at 9:30 p.m. and less than an hour later it was known that Duncan would win this riding.
Once confirmed, Duncan’s arrival at the party was announced by retired MP Guy Lauzon who served this riding 15 years as MP.
“I thank you, because if there’s anyone deserving of your support it’s Eric Duncan,” said Lauzon.
Duncan graciously addressed the audience filled with friends, family and supporters thanking them all for their efforts.
He thanked all of the other candidates for the positive tone of the campaign. “We showed our community, and others, that you can do politics differently,” said Duncan who saw the positivity of the local campaign as “night and day different,” than the tone of the national campaign.
“Tonight is a special night, one that I’ll never forget,” said Duncan. “Ever since I was a child I dreamed of serving my community in the House of Commons. I am grateful to the voters of Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry for making that dream come true.”
“I promise each and every day to work hard for you, for our riding and for our country.”
“We have a lot of work to do in Ottawa and here in the riding and I can’t wait to get to work.”
In the most emotional moment of the evening Duncan thanked his parents Bea and Ed and sister Jill for all of their support in making him the person he is today. “While the title of MP will be coming to my name, the proudest title I’ll ever have is as your son and as your brother.”
Looking at the national picture Duncan was positive overall with the Conservative performance.
“I would have liked the have been on the government side of things,” said Duncan. “But, we’re up and the Liberals are down.”
“I’m happy that we’ve come a long way in a short time. We’re on an upward trajectory.”
Megill proud of campaign
Second place finisher, Liberal candidate Heather Megill said she was proud of the campaign she ran and of her team.
“We had a really good team and were able to get the message out about our party and the platform,” she said.
Megill said that the biggest thing she heard in her campaign was concern about climate change. “People here really felt that the number one issue here was climate change,” Megill said. “It affects everything including the river that passes here.”
Megill said that when knocking on doors, she didn’t hear a lot of issues from the national campaigns.“There were some concerns about Trudeau, and SNC Lavelin,” she said. “But more people were concerned about their retirement and looking after vulnerable people in the riding.”
With the election over, the recently retired school teacher said she is planning on going back to school and is working on becoming fluently bilingual.
Schmitz not going anywhere
“I’m not going anywhere,” NDP candidate Kelsey Catherine Schmitz told The Leader. “This is the first act. I’ve laid a really good foundation and have a great group of people who really care about their communities.” Schmitz said that while the campaign started slowly, her team built momentum through community events, roundtable discussions and working groups.
“I did a lot of door knocking myself in the riding, plus what the volunteers did.” She said that she knocked on over 5,500 doors herself. “I feel I was just as effective with my small and mighty team, as the Big Blue Machine was,” she said.
Between now and the next election, she plans on continuing her advocacy for the community.
“I want to share in the community what the main issues and needs are, and hold whomever the MP is accountable,” Schmitz said. “I am going to advocate loudly for SDSG.”
(with files from P. Blancher)