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UPDATED: Conservative Bob Bailey cruises to victory in Sarnia-Lambton

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Tara Jeffrey

Bob Bailey cruised to a fifth consecutive election victory Thursday, but it wasn’t without a little disappointment.

“The one thing I didn’t like was that so few people voted,” the returning MPP told The Journal.

Just over 46% of Sarnia-Lambton’s 86,000 eligible voters cast ballots, a sharp decline from the 61% voter turnout in 2018.

“So many people sacrificed to give us — and keep us — the right to vote in this country, and for people not to take advantage of that … even if it’s just to go turn your ballot back in — just get out there.”

Bailey said people just were not engaged this election.

“In 2018, it was a ‘change’ campaign,” he said. In that election, Doug Ford’s Conservatives trounced former Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne.

“People wanted change, and they pretty-near beat our doors down because they wanted to help, wanted signs, etc. But this time around, I tell yah, I don’t think we put up half the signs, we didn’t get near as many phone calls,” he said.

“I think in general people were happy, more or less, with the government they had,” Bailey added. “Certainly not 100%, but I took from that that people are relatively happy — people are working, they’re getting out of COVID-19, and they’re giving the government credit for managing as good as we could.”

Bailey took 52% of the vote in Sarnia-Lambton for the second consecutive election, and his Progressive Conservative Party under Doug Ford easily won a second straight majority government.

The 21,183 votes Bailey received were almost 11,700 votes ahead of the field, which was comprised entirely of first-time candidates.

Dylan Stelpstra of the NDP finished second, receiving just under 9,500 votes, or 23.63%, followed by Liberal candidate Mark Russell (4,199 votes, 10.45%).

New Blue Party candidate Keith Benn received 2,719 votes (6.77%) and the Green Party’s Mason Bourdeau had 1,266 votes (3.15%).

Populist Party Ontario candidate Carla Olson had 964 votes (2.4%), and Ian Orchard of the Ontario Party 351 votes (0.87%).

Bailey was born and raised in Petrolia, and worked at NOVA Chemicals for more than 30 years. He most recently served as the Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Government and Consumer Services.

He’ll turn 72 this summer, and says he still has a few items to check off his political bucket list. They include completion of the long-planned widening of Highway 40 and a withdrawal management facility at Bluewater Health.

He’s also working on a private members bill to protect the privacy rights of foster kids whose records are readily available, even as they become adults.

“I think the next biggest thing for us is getting into hydrogen production,” he said, noting the push on for Sarnia-Lambton to become a hub of Ontario’s hydrogen economy. That includes talks involving the former Lambton Generating Station property as a site for large-scale hydrogen production.

“We’ve got the right geology here, the right engineering, and of course, the workforce to build it.”

He said he’s looking forward to representing Sarnia-Lambton at Queen’s Park for another four years.

“If I get to the point where I have all these challenges finished, then you know, I’ll take a look at what I’m doing,” he said.

“But for now, there’s so much more work to do.”

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