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Smith rides blue wave to Queen’s Park; NDP elated and Quaiff back to mayor’s chair

Todd Smith congratulates Joanne Belanger on a fine campaign.

By Olivia Timm and Sue Capon
Shortly after the polls closed, the new Bay of Quinte riding was as blue as the waters around it – sending Progressive Conservative Todd Smith back for a third term at Queen’s Park – this time in a majority government under leader Doug Ford.

Joanne Belanger with husband Terry Cassidy chatting with Todd Smith and wife Tawnya

“I am just really, really excited after seven years to finally be going to Queen’s Park as part of a majority PC government and to be able to get things done for the Bay of Quinte riding,” Smith said. “During these past seven years as MPP for Prince Edward-Hastings, I spent a lot of time trying to do as much as I could possibly do from the opposition bench. A lot of time in question period it looks like we hate each other but I actually had a lot of friends on the other side and a lot of them lost their seats tonight in government. We got some things done, but I think it’s going to be so much easier now with a friendly government caucus and friends in cabinet to make things happen for the Bay of Quinte and to get the province back on track.”

Smith racked up 24,256 votes of 50,483 cast. The NDP’s Joanne Belanger landed second with 16,067 votes and Liberal Robert Quaiff ended at 7,512. Though Smith had a commanding lead with 48 per cent of the vote, Joanne Belanger’s NDP camp was buyoed by her party’s showing at about 32 per cent.

“I am so proud of the Bay of Quinte NDP,” she said. “I want to thank the residents of the Bay of Quinte riding who went to the polls and voted for me tonight. Your vote has contributed to the voices across this province that say everyone in this great province matters and it’s time that we came together and make change for the better. By your collective voice, you have reminded us all of our common humanity and the need we have to look out for one another because when one of us suffers, we all suffer. When one of us thrives, we all thrive,” she said. “Always remember, one doesn’t need to be the party in power to keep up the fight for positive change.”

Susan and Robert Quaiff chat with supporters.

And though the Liberal party in power for the past 15 years has lost its status, and its leader has resigned, cheers and applause rang out at Robert Quaiff’s election night gathering as he announced he would be back to work Monday morning as the County’s mayor – at least for the rest of this term – and cheers louder still, as his supporters were told

he would stand again in the next provincial election.

“I’m going to go back on Monday morning and I’m going to be the mayor. And I’m good with that, I’m really good with that,” Quaiff said. “We gave this one heck of a fight. We just didn’t get there and I congratulate Todd Smith and Joanne Belanger and the other cadidates that ran. Even to just put your name down on that ballot, to be involved, is incredible, and what a feeling, and what a rush.”

“Obviously the people of Ontario are content with Doug Ford, which I’m not. I’m sincerely scared at this point at what Ford will do. I’ve worked hard with council to ensure a new hospital is coming and wanted to ensure Trenton hospital was going to get dialysis… we’ll just sit back and see what’s going to happen.”

Robert Quaiff thanked his wife Susan, campaign supporters and volunteers.

In the meantime, he’s taking the weekend off to rest up after an “exhausting campaign”.

“I’ve been told by a lot of people out there that I have been one of the most sincere candidates and that I spoke from the heart time and time again at the debates,” he said. “At the end of the day, I feel great, I feel good and what an experience and opportunity that has been bestowed upon me.”

Each of the candidates gave hearty and heartfelt thanks to their campaign teams and volunteers.

“I think it was quite clear to anybody who was paying attention that we had the best campaign and the best team locally in the Bay of Quinte,” said Smith. “We had so many people that spent hours, days and weeks knocking on doors. We knocked on over 18,000 doors and that is not an exaggeration. We actually walked that much and talked to that many people. It’s because of those types of volunteer hours, working for a cause that everybody universally believed in, I think that really pushed us over the top. I thank all of my volunteers and my family. I would not be able to do this without a lot of sacrifices by my wife, Tawnya, and my daughters Peyton and Reagan.

“It’s really awesome to celebrate with everyone here tonight that quite honestly, in some cases, have been working for 15 years waiting for this moment.”

A few supporters were so happy to see Smith win, they had tears in their eyes. One woman, sporting a white and blue “Elect Todd Smith” t-shirt with two friends, choked out the words “I’m so, so happy!”

Belanger also thanked her team, volunteers, her husband and campaign manager Terry Cassidy, and their children.

“I’m feeling positive because I know we ran a good campaign,” she said. “We had a fantastic team and I thought overall, things built as we went along the campaign trail and more and more people jumped on board, so you have to feel positive about that,” she said. “I think the great thing about an election is that people get to have their say.”

And while the people have spoken, Belanger is also already keen to run in the next provincial election.

“I’ve been involved in the community in so many different ways. That won’t stop after tonight. I love my community so I feel very strongly that I’ll stay involved.”

Quaiff also thanked his team, supporters and the “love of my life” Susan, “who has been by my side from the moment the writ dropped” and for the past 41 years. Though he’s back to leading the County, he has not decided whether he will seek the seat again in November’s election. That he said, will be part of family discussions to come.

The Green party’s Mark Daye received 1,730 votes; Libertarian’s Cindy Davidson 399; Independent’s Paul Bordonaro 380 and Trillum Party’s James Engelsman, 139.

As of late election night, the PCs were elected in 76 ridings; the NDP 40, the Liberals seven and Green party leader Mike Schreiner won the party’s first provincial seat.

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