Validated by her second win as a New Democrat in London West, MPP-elect Peggy Sattler vowed to work for all her constituents regardless of how they voted Thursday (June 12).
The incumbent’s campaign team confirmed that according to their polls she won with a wider margin than in the 2013 by-election. With all polls reporting, she had 22,247 of 97,060 votes to Progressive Conservative Jeff Bennett’s 16,296 while Liberal Nick Steinburg trailed with 13,050.
The New Democrats held pat in London but failed to make gains on the whole, remaining third party in the legislature with 21 seats to the Liberals’ 59 and the Tories’ 27.
What’s more, leader Andrea Horwath has lost her power as kingmaker in a minority government while the party she called corrupt throughout the campaign now has carte blanche until 2018.
Sattler denied toppling the Liberal government was the wrong decision. She repeated a number of times while speaking to reporters that the Tim Hudak Conservatives had scared voters back to the big red tent with their “extreme” austerity promise to cut 100,000 public sector positions.
“That may have coalesced more voters around the Liberals.”
She said her focus going forward would be job creation in London.
“We have to start focusing on getting some changes made that are going to benefit the people of this province,” she said. “It remains job one to get the economy going and work closely with the city on plans for job creation, to bring new firms to London and to leverage the assets that we have available to us.”
Bennett said the Conservatives had the best jobs plan but failed to communicate it to Ontarians.
“We didn’t do a good job marketing and that’s what needs to be different,” he said. “I think if you compare the plans side by each, ours is what’s best for the province right now but we didn’t do the best job of getting that out there.”
He was stunned to see a Liberal majority.
“I knew very well I might not win this riding but to see a Liberal majority up there on the TV is shocking to me,” he said. “It’s been 11 years of, in my mind, awful management of the province so for that to be rewarded is surprising.”
Bennett became the PC candidate the day the writ dropped and started with “no team and no money.”
He said he wouldn’t have done anything differently, but a little more lead time would have been nice. He’d run again in a heartbeat.
“We were up against it right from the start (but) I loved every minute of it.”
Steinburg, the former Chris Bentley staffer who was the only Liberal in London West to volunteer to run, arrived at Sattler’s victory party before she did. He waited about 15 minutes to congratulate her as she walked into the ballroom atop Goodwill Industries.
He said he was proud of his positive campaign and that he wouldn’t have changed a thing.
“It was incredible to be out in front of a really hard-working team,” he said. “It was a lot of fun and I’m proud of the message we put out there.”