As predicted by most, incumbent John Vanthof won the provincial election in Timiskaming-Cochrane on June 2.
Vanthof, of the Ontario New Democratic Party (NDP), has represented the electoral district since 2011. He was declared the winner with 42.9 per cent of 21,574 ballots counted. Bill Foy (Progressive Conservative) was in second with 35.5% (9,251 votes) and Brian Johnson (Liberal) was in third with 6.8 per cent (1,461 votes). Local candidate Kris Rivard of the Ontario Green Party scored a substantial 6.2% (1,341 votes) and Garry Andrade of the New Blue Party reached 5.2% (1,127) votes. The other candidates were Ontario Party’s Geoffrey Aitchison; Libertarian Eric Cummings; and None of the Above Direct Democracy Party’s Jeff Wilkinson – for a total of 8 different parties and candidates vying for your vote.
While the PC candidate Bill Foy earned a substantial vote tally, he was notably absent from any community all-candidate events and next to impossible to reach for any media interviews, but his signage was everywhere and he reportedly knocked on many doors. Liberal candidate Brian Johnson didn’t even mount a campaign and was nowhere to be seen.
An exhausted John Vanthof was reached June 3rd for comment. “I’m tired, sunburned and bug bitten – and have a few people taking down signs.” He was getting ready to join them. Asked about his challenger Bill Foy he said, “I met Mr. Foy once at a Duck’s Unlimited dinner before the writ was dropped and have not seen or heard from him since. [As for his showing] I would say that the province and Timiskaming-Cochrane is more fractured than usual – the fact that we had 8 candidates. The Conservative candidate did a much bigger campaign than we were used to in the past … I may not have agreed with some of what they did but they put on a much bigger campaign. And the Liberal didn’t put a up campaign at all! So that made a difference. Because the vote was fractured, the New Blue Party and Green Party combined took 12% of the vote, and they were both totally different platforms, but they both worked very hard and I think it showed. … We knocked on a lot of doors, the support was there obviously, but people weren’t engaged as in past campaigns.”
The voter turnout itself was abysmal. Provincially only 43% of the electorate showed up to vote, and it was even lower at 40% in Timiskaming-Cochrane. “I’m thinking of the raw numbers – the Conservatives didn’t go up that much, it was that ours (NDP) dropped and I think there was more voter apathy.” Provincially, the NDP remain the Official Opposition but they lost 9 seats compared to the last election, and the Liberals took only 8, giving Doug Ford’s PC government an even bigger majority. The PC sweep even prompted the NDP and Liberal leaders to step down on election night.