A vote extension of more than an hour delayed news of the outcome but Perth-Wellington remained a Progressive Conservative stronghold after Matthew Rae won convincingly Thursday night.
The riding was guaranteed a new provincial MPP after the retirement of Randy Pettapiece but it stayed PC, with Rae finishing well ahead of NDP candidate Jo-Dee Burbach.
“It feels great, a great honour to serve in elected office,” the 32-year-old Mitchell resident said after the results came in. “It is great to see such support from the riding”
The delay, affecting 19 ridings and announced earlier in the day by Elections Ontario, made for an awkward wait at the Mitchell Golf Club: media already reported the Progressive Conservatives retained a majority government, while the Perth-Wellington votes had yet to be counted.
With 59 of 61 polls reported at around midnight, Rae had 19,347 votes to Burbach’s 9,127. Burbach took a leave from Stratford city council to run for the NDP. Liberal candidate Ashley-Friest Fox, a Palmerston resident, was a distant third with 6,658 votes. Green Party candidate Laura Bisutti, also from Stratford, had 2,615 votes.
Rae grew up on a farm in Harriston in Wellington County. He took a leave of absence from his job as director of university relations at Shad Canada to run for provincial office. He won the PC nomination in March over St. Marys resident Don Van Galen.
The newly elected MPP said he plans to hit the ground running on day one. Asked about goals, he noted the re-elected PC party’s commitment to having rural broadband by 2025 by continuing to work with local communications and telecommunications companies to get the projects finished.
Building 943 new or upgraded long term care beds across Perth-Welllington is another commitment.
Rae said housing was a frequent topic on the doorstep while campaigning.
“We committed in budget 2022 to work with our municipal partners through a housing supply action plan. What works in downtown Toronto will not work in downtown Listowel, or Stratford…we will work with municipal partners to encourage the development we need locally to meet housing demand.”
He also pledged to work with colleagues across the aisle to get good legislation passed, noting ideas can come from any party. Rae plans on reaching out to local municipal leaders in Perth-Wellington to learn more about the issues affecting the riding.
Pettapiece served three terms in Perth-Wellington after defeating Liberal John Wilkinson by just over 200 votes in the 2011 provincial election.
In a symbolic gesture, Pettapiece presented Rae with a framed picture, which included the word ‘persistence – something the new MPP will have to remember each day, he pointed out.
Doug Ford’s government easily won a majority government, with the NDP in second place. The Liberals won just eight seats. NDP leader Andrea Horwath and Liberal leader Steven Del Duca both resigned after results came in last night.