Minutes after winning his fourth consecutive election race, MPP Bob Bailey vowed health care won’t erode in Sarnia-Lambton under his watch.
That’s despite dire warnings from the NDP during the election campaign Bluewater Health could lose 100 staff and 13 beds under a Doug Ford Progressive Conservatives government.
Ford didn’t just win June 7. The PC’s gave the ruling Liberal Party a thumping to form a majority government with the NDP the official opposition.
Though voters went for change provincially, locally they showed Bailey has never been more popular.
He beamed as a crowd of supporters gathered at the Sarnia Legion Hall to congratulate him on his biggest win yet.
Bailey garnered 26,811 votes and handily defeated his nearest opponent, the NDP’s Kathy Alexander with 19,005 votes.
Neil Wereley, parachuted in from London to gamely carry the Liberal banner, made only a ripple with 2,226 votes.
It was an intense 28-day election campaign, hard-fought by Alexander in her first foray into political life. As executive director of the Bluewater Health Foundation, her assertions of health-care cuts under Ford government seemed to carry some weight.
But Bailey said Sarnia-Lambton residents can expect more investment and the end of what he calls “hallway healthcare.”
Ford has said he will find $6 billion in efficiencies in provincial spending, but it won’t come from the health-care envelope, Bailey said.
“I know we can find the savings and I’d like to be part of that,” he said. “There are ways to do government different.”
Bailey said he’s prepared to take on whatever role the new premier has for him and isn’t necessarily positioning himself for a cabinet seat. But Bailey has 11 years’ experience as MPP, much more than many PC neophytes that won seats on June 7.
If he is offered a cabinet job, Bailey conceded he might be interested in energy “or something related to the petrochemical industry.”
Bailey, who backed Caroline Mulroney during the PC’s leadership race, said he believes Doug Ford will be a good premier.
“He’s a down-to-earth kind of guy,” he said. “I think he’ll listen to the people and do an excellent job.”
“If you think of what he’s accomplished in less than 100 days, he won a leadership campaign, immediately had to put a platform together, and then had to run a whole election. It’s amazing what he’s been able to do.”
For her part, the NDP’s Alexander had a bittersweet election night surrounded by supporters at The Refined Fool Brewing Company on London Road.
Obviously disappointed with a loss, Alexander took solace in knowing she secured more votes than Bailey received when he won the seat in 2014.
“I have two girls and everything that I choose to do is because I want them to believe that they can choose to partake in whatever they desire to do,” Alexander said.
“I’ve been very fortunate to have incredible family, friends, volunteers that have really surrounded me with care and love throughout this experience, and I’m sure that they’re going to have to do a little bit more tonight than they probably would’ve liked to,” she said.
BY THE NUMBERS IN SARNIA-LAMBTON
PC – Bob Bailey (26,811) – 52.76% of the vote
NDP – Kathy Alexander (19,005) – 37.40% of the vote
Liberal – Neil Wereley (2,226) – 4.3 % of the vote
Green – Kevin Shaw (1,856) – 3.64% of the vote
Trillium Party – Andy Bruziewicz (601) – 1.18% of the vote
None of the Above – Jeff Lozier (250) – 0.49%
Independent – Fanina Kodre (71) – 0.14%
WHAT THEY SAID:
“For me, I support the Progressive Conservative party because it’s grounded in economic reality. I don’t think Doug Ford wanted to get too detailed about spending promises until he had a chance to look at the books.”
– Andrew Esser, 22-year-old university grad with a degree in financial economics.
“Our pre-election polling was spot on with the results. We had so many people calling, wishing us well and donating. Demand for signs was way up. We handed out 2,000 this time, only 1,200 last time.”
– Anthony Rizzetto, Bob Bailey’s campaign manager.
“I am surprised by the size of the majority but people want a more responsible government. By that I mean one that pays its bills.”
– Andy Brandt, former Sarnia mayor, MPP, cabinet minister and interim PC party leader.
“Bob is a nice guy, works hard and loves people. I think he would be a good candidate for cabinet. He’d make a good Minister of Agriculture.”
– Dave Boushy, city councillor and former Conservative MPP
“Bob said he’d introduce a private members bill to reinstate Remembrance Day in Ontario, and I believe he will do that.”
– Wilma McNeill, longtime crusader to make Remembrance Day a legal national holiday.
With files from Jake Romphf