By Andrew Russell | Global News
The Ontario Progressive Conservatives under Ford won a majority mandateThursday, Global News projects, ending more than 15 years of Liberal rule in the province, defeating Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals and Andrea Horwath’s NDP.
Ford, a former Toronto city councillor and businessmand, had positioned himself from the outset of the campaign as a fiscally responsible outsider, promising to cut government waste and put money back into voters’ wallets.
“I’m very honoured, I’m very humbled,” said Ford as he left his mother’s house Thursday evening on his way to PC election headquarters at the Toronto Congress Centre. “I want to thank our team and everyone out there.”
“I’m very grateful to the people of Ontario,” he said. “We worked right up until the last minute and we appreciate everyone’s support.”
Ford won his seat in Etobicoke North and NDP Leader Andrea Horwath held her seat in Hamilton Centre, where she has served as an MPP since 2004. In Guelph, Mike Schreiner made history Thursday night becoming the first Green Party candidate to win a seat in an Ontario election.
Polls closed at 9 p.m. ET, but at least seven polling stations will remain open past originally scheduled closing times due to delays at the booths, according to Elections Ontario.
Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne was re-elected after a tight battle for her riding of Don Valley West, as the Liberals are hoping to win at least eight seats to maintain official party status at Queen’s Park. Many of her cabinet ministers have been defeated including Attorney General Yasir Naqvi, Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault, and Steven Del Duca, minister of economic development.
Christine Elliott, who ran against for to lead the PCs, unseated Liberal Environment Minister Chris Ballard in the Newmarket-Aurora riding.
Ford’s improbable run to be the next premier only began March 10 after winning the PC leadership in a hotly contested race following the resignation of Patrick Brown. The Toronto businessman immediately set his sights on Wynne for past Liberal scandals before turning his attention to the New Democrats, which began the election in third-place but rose dramatically in public opinion polls.
Horwath will be the leader of the opposition.
And despite not releasing a fully costed campaign platform, something he had promised to do for months, he made a number of expensive promises without offering details on how they would be paid for. His promise to find billions in government “inefficiencies” came with equally few details.
Some of his big ticket items include a 20 per cent tax cut for the middle class, ending cap and trade, reducing business taxes, and lowering gas prices by 10 cents a litre, while also building new long-term care beds, a 12 per cent cut hydro bills and a tax rebate for child care.
Polls throughout the campaign that showed voters wanting change appeared correct as the province, which has had Liberal premier since 2003, turned blue.
Ford, 53, is the second son of Diane and Doug Ford Sr., a provincial politician for one term in the late 1990s. He’s also served as the head Deco Labels and Tags — the family’s multimillion-dollar company with operations in Canada and the U.S.
An often controversial figure, he served on Toronto’s city council along with his late brother, Rob Ford, the former mayor who admitted to smoking crack cocaine and made international headlines.
While there have been no shortage of controversies throughout the campaign, just days before the election, it revealed that the widow of Ford’s brother was suing the PC leader for more than $16 million. The suit claims Ford mishandled the estate of his late brother, causing her and her children financial harm. Her suit also alleges Ford has mismanaged the family business, Deco Labels, destroying the value of the company.
Ford has denied the allegations and vowed to fight them in court.
*With files from the Canadian Press