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Neil Ellis maintains seat in tight Bay of Quinte election

In an election too close for pollsters to call, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau managed to keep his job winning a minority government. And while the Bay of Quinte riding kept Liberal Neil Ellis, ridings to the east and west changed to Conservative blue.

Countylive.ca partnered with reporters from Loyalist College’s journalism program on election night. Brittany Woodcock was at the Ellis camp in Belleville, while Thomas Goyer was at Huff Estates with Conservative Tim Durkin’s supporters, and Olivia Waldriff was at the County Canteen with the NDP’s Stephanie Bell.

Lyle Vanclief, former MP Prince Edward Hastings (1997-2003) looks on as Neil Ellis and wife Susan celebrate victory with supporters gathered at Belleville’s Empire Theatre.

Ellis thanks campaign volunteers for tireless effort

Photos and story by Brittany Woodcock
Cheers filled Belleville’s Empire Theatre celebrating the re-election of Bay of Quinte Liberal candidate Neil Ellis.

In his victory speech, Ellis thanked his supporters, his campaign office leader and dedicated his campaign to Bev Boyd.

“Bev Boyd helped me on the last election. Unfortunately, she passed away.” Ellis said. “She worked at my office as a volunteer and ran our office last year. Bev, you’re up there and I know you’re smiling tonight.”

Ellis also thanked his volunteers.

Neil Ellis greets Green Party candidate Danny Celovsky.

“No organization can get elected without volunteers,” he said. “We’ve had tireless people that have been out there pounding on doors and even helping tonight with the election. So shout out to all the volunteers. I couldn’t do it without you.”

Emilie Leneveu volunteered with Ellis’ campaign in Picton and said that the most rewarding part was talking to voters.

“Just being able to go door-knocking and make those conversations one-on-one with people; and to hear what they’re thinking, has been really rewarding,” she said.

Leneveu is just one of the young people who decided to volunteer to help re-elect Ellis.

“My youngest campaigner is 14. He’s put over 50 hours of campaigning in for me,” Ellis said.

He’s also reached out to young people by being involved in Loyalist College’s Journalism program’s voting initiative, “So You Think I Should Vote?”, and with mock voting at public schools across the riding.

Now, it’s back to work. Ellis says the two big things on his to-do list when he gets back to parliament are to follow through with Pharmacare, and to solve veterans homelessness.

Conservative candidate Tim Durkin, with his wife, Jen, conceded after 1 a.m.

Durkin concedes, encourages support for Ellis

Story and photos by Thomas Goyer
Bay of Quinte Conservative candidate Tim Durkin lost a tight election race to incumbent MP Neil Ellis last night.

His election night event was held at Huff Estate Winery in Prince Edward County.

Durkin says that he chose the winery because the County is the perfect middle ground between the areas in the Bay of Quinte and there is no better place to be in the County than a winery.

The atmosphere at the event was excited, but reserved, before polls closed. Supporters began to arrive around 8:30 p.m.

One of those supporters was Suzanne Juby. She says that she attended the event to show support for “the most honest and sincere candidate in the field.”

MPP Todd Smith noted supporters were confident in their candidate.

MPP Todd Smith was also in attendance.

Smith says that the supporters were subdued, but confident in their candidate.

“Tim has worked extremely hard,” Smith said.

The audience was relatively quiet, beside the occasional comment of “Get that red off the screen.”

Gary Fox, former MPP Prince Edward Lennox South Hastings (1995-99), was also in attendance.

At a time when hope in the room was starting to fade, Fox encouraged hope.

Durkin with former MPP Gary Fox.

“You have to remain optimistic and hopeful till the end. You never know when this can turn around,” he said.

The mood changed when it was predicted the Liberal party would form a minority government. While it hadn’t ended the night for Durkin supporters, it wasn’t the news they wanted.

As results continued to come in from the riding, supporters were seeing the outcome was becoming inevitable as Ellis maintained his lead throughout the night.

Durkin arrived at 11:20 p.m. and began to talk amongst his supporters. He finally conceded at 1:02 a.m.

He placed second in riding voting, receiving 22,886 votes – 1,465 fewer than Ellis.

He thanked everyone in attendance, as well as those who helped his campaign.

“I wanted to run a campaign that would make my daughter, my wife, my family and the people here proud,” he said. “And from the bottom of my heart, I hope we were able to accomplish that.”

Durkin praised the other local candidates for their professionalism throughout the campaign.

He also encouraged support for Ellis moving forward.

“We have to focus on turning our support to him and to his family and to doing what’s best for the riding,” he said.

Durkin said he would not rule out running again to represent the riding.

Stephanie Bell and her campaign team take a “silly picture” per Bell’s request.

Bell challenged Bay of Quinte NDP to do things differently

Photos and story by Olivia Waldriff
Third place was a happy place for Stephanie Bell, the New Democratic Party candidate, as the crowd at her election night party at the County Canteen in Picton chanted “NDP” and jumped and cheered, proud of the work she has done.

Stephanie Bell with her proud mom, Bonnie Drudge.

At the beginning of the night, around 9 p.m., Bell sits at a crowded table surrounded by close friends and supporters. Next to her is her mom, Bonnie Drudge, who looks excited for her daughter.

“I think she did a very genuine, hardworking campaign and I feel like she put her all into it,” said Drudge.

As the night continues, more and more people fill the room to watch as the election results come through. One of those people was Terry Cassidy, a Quinte West councillor and the 2015 NDP candidate for the Bay of Quinte. He arrives with his NDP shirt pulled over his dress shirt and Bell came straight over to hug him.

He spoke glowingly of Bell’s campaign.

“She was interested and willing to learn and at the same time she challenged all of us who have been around for a long time to do some things differently, and as a result, we did do things differently – and better,” said Cassidy.

Stephanie is a true representative of the NDP,” said Hélène LeBlanc, a former NDP Quebec MP.

Bell has lived in Prince Edward County for more than 25 years and it shows – while answering questions outside, she stops every so often to say hello to people walking by.

“It’s so good to campaign in your home area … I just feel like people here in the County really support me … my community is just so supportive and really lovely, they’ve got my back, which is amazing. That’s what’s great about a small town,” she said.

Although she said she has had a positive reaction from people in the County, there are some people who don’t get what she is about.

“There’s been a couple people who are, you know, old-school in their thinking and sometimes it’s hard for them to understand where I’m coming from … that is challenging, but for the most part, people have just been really excited to hear and learn about what I’m offering.”

Bell said her favourite part of campaigning was working with her team.

“My team is really cool … they’re just so lively and awake and wanting to do the best job they can,” she said.

Later on, while holding a handful of thank you cards from the children of her supporters, she said those might be what she liked most.

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  1. Michelle says:

    This is a good result for the County.

  2. Dennis Fox says:

    Great victory for Neil Ellis – he was a good representative for this area and deserved to be re-elected!

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