Sarnia-Lambton’s Tory MPP Bob Bailey, just handed his third vote of confidence, knows all too well what it’s like to sit in opposition at Queen’s Park.
The Liberals have been the party in power since Bailey was first elected the local MPP in 2007.
He had hoped things would change this time around. In fact, he believed the cancelled gas plants scandal would sink the Liberals and even mused during his campaign about a possible PC majority.
But it was not to be.
The Liberals under Kathleen Wynne’s leadership won 59 seats and a majority government.
“It’s a sad commentary….kinda like rewarding bad behavior,” Bailey said. “I’m disappointed (with the Liberal majority.) I thought it was an opportunity to put them in the penalty box.”
Election night proved to be tense for the incumbent and his campaign team as they watched local NDP candidate Brian White make giant strides at the polls.
White had a particularly strong showing in the City of Sarnia and stayed within several hundred votes of Bailey for much of the night.
Ultimately, the local NDP campaign improved a whopping 10 percentage points over 2011, stealing votes from Anne Marie Gillis’ Liberal campaign and a good chunk from Bailey as well.
“Hey, you had us guessing for a while,” Bailey said as White shook his hand on election night.
Bailey was quick to point out his past success as an opposition member, noting that he managed to get two private members bills passed in the last four years.
He pointed to his part in convincing the Liberals to keep Sarnia Jail open and his ongoing battle to stop wind turbines, his fight to convert the defunct Lambton Generating Station, as well as his support for the beleaguered horseracing industry.
Bailey said he will be in familiar territory on the opposing side of the legislature when the government gets down to business again.
“I can work across the aisle. I’ve done it before and I’ll do it again,” he said. “I have friends in all the parties.”
Former Sarnia-Lambton MPP and interim premier Andy Brandt was among a crowd of 120 out to support Bailey at the Royal Canadian Legion when the election results rolled in. He said he was stunned by the Liberal majority.
The pivotal issue for Ontario and Sarnia-Lambton is the cost of electricity, Brandt said.
If prices don’t come down, major manufacturing jobs like a new Nova plant in Sarnia won’t develop.
“Bob has to bring that to the Liberals’ attention. There are jobs at stake,” Brandt said.
BY THE NUMBERS IN SARNIA-LAMBTON
PC Bob Bailey (18,720) – 41.09% of the vote
NDP Brian White (16,274) – 35.73% of the vote
Liberal Anne Marie Gillis (8,113) – 17.8 % of the vote
Green Party’s Kevin Shaw (2,106) – 4.62% of the vote
Libertarian Andrew Falby (340) – .75% of the vote
– Cathy Dobson