Ford’s Progressive Conservatives win both Ontario byelections

Premier Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative candidates won both elections in Ontario by convincing margins.

PC candidate Zee Hamid, who has Liberal roots, won by more than 2,400 votes, or nine percentage points, over Liberal Galen Naidoo Harris in Milton, just west of Mississauga.

Polls and observers suggested Milton would have been a closer race as the Liberals looked to make inroads in the 905 corridor around Toronto that the Conservatives have dominated in the last two elections.

“I feel great,” Hamid said after his victory. “I think it’s an affirmation of the great work our PC Party is doing in Ontario and people voted to continue it.”

Fellow PC candidate Steve Pinsonneault won 57 per cent of the vote in the Conservative stronghold of Lambton-Kent-Middlesex.

Ford celebrated the victories with Hamid at his victory party in Milton.

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“We’re fortunate, we’re blessed, but we’re very humbled by the win,” Ford said.

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“We couldn’t ask for two better candidates than Zee and Steve.”

The Liberals finished safely in second place in both by-elections, with the Opposition New Democrats a distant third.

“Tonight’s results in Milton and Lambton-Kent-Middlesex send a strong message: Bonnie Crombie and the Ontario Liberals are the only alternative to Doug Ford,” the Ontario Liberal Party said in a statement.

“The Ontario Liberals will continue to hold the Ford Conservatives accountable for choosing to reward their rich, insider friends instead of fighting for the real people of Ontario.”

Milton has been vacant since cabinet minister Parm Gill resigned in February to join the federal Conservatives.

Hamid, a three-term Milton councillor, donated to the Liberals in 2022 and unsuccessfully sought a federal Liberal nomination in 2015.

Further south-west, Lambton-Kent-Middlesex was held by Monte McNaughton, who served in the Progressive Conservative Opposition since 2011. McNaughton, a cabinet member, was seen as a rising star in Ford’s team before he resigned last October.

Liberal candidate Cathy Burghardt-Jesson finished more than 9,000 votes behind Chatham-Kent councilor Pinsonneault as she took 23 per cent of the vote.

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Ford paid a lot of attention to Milton during and in the run-up to the midterms, with ads about GO Transit service and Highway 413, and has had many cabinet ministers and other caucus members campaign there.

While a Conservative defeat in Milton would not have affected Ford’s majority, the party already lost a seat in a by-election last year that had been held by another cabinet minister and did not want a repeat.

The by-election marked the first test for Crombie, who was crowned Liberal leader in December. The former Mississauga mayor considered and then decided not to run for the Milton seat.

“The path to victory will be won through 905, as it has been for the Conservatives, so retaining this seat and doing so quite convincingly at this stage should be really encouraging for the Conservatives,” said Cameron Anderson, a Professor of political science at Western University.

“I see a not bad result for the Liberals, just under 40 per cent, but it’s clearly not a big gain for the Liberals and it’s clearly not a repudiation of the ruling party at the moment.”

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