Nuttall wins Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte
Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte Conservative candidate Alex Nuttall deals with the stress of a close race while watching results with supporters Tuesday in Barrie. Mark Wanzel/Barrie Examiner/Postmedia Network
In a photo-finish race was for most of the evening too close to call, it came down to the wire to determine Conservative candidate Alex Nuttall won the first seat ever held in Parliament in the new riding of Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte.
With votes between Liberal candidate Brian Tamblyn and Nuttall consistently less than 500 votes apart as the 219 polls were counted, it was well past midnight when Nuttall was finally declared the winner.
Nuttall received 21,103 votes, followed by Tamblyn in a close second with 20,993 and the New Democratic Party's (NDP) Ellen White took 5,202. Rounding out the riding were Green Party candidate Marty Lancaster with 2,666, Libertarian candidate Darren Roskam at 403 and independent candidate Ram Faerber with 187.
An exhausted but jubilant Nuttall arrived at the Pie Pizza Wood Fired Pizza Joint winshortly before 12:30 a.m.
“At one point, I had to go for a walk and calm down,” Nuttall admitted as the votes were still being counted.
“I am surrounded by people who love me and care about me and I had to come in – before the final count – and thank them for believing in me, believing that I could do this, even when I doubted myself,” Nuttall added.
A cheer broke out in the pizzeria as only a few polls left to be counted showed Nuttall held a slim lead of 102 votes over Tamblyn.
Asked if he believed he’d have a difficult time in Ottawa with a surprisingly strong upset that will send the Liberal party to Ottawa with a majority government, Nuttall said he plans to hold soon-to-be prime minister Justin Trudeau to his campaign promises.
“I will hold Mr. Trudeau to account. My job, will be to ensure he fulfills his promise of a full-day GO Train service to Barrie,” Nuttall said.
In the crowd of well-wishers and campaign volunteers, Springwater Mayor Bill French said he saw Nuttall working hard to achieve his mandate of representing the newly formed riding in Parliament.
“Alex worked very hard, but he had a great competitor in Brian Tamblyn,” French said.
“My expectation during the course of the last couple of weeks, was that there might be a Liberal minority. We’ll have to give everyone, all the new Members of Parliament, a chance to stabilize before we can make any assessments,” French said, adding he still doesn’t agree with Trudeau’s plans to run a deficit.
Earlier in the evening, former Simcoe North MPP Garfield Dunlop dropped in at the Pie restaurant to offer his support to Nuttall, who hadn’t yet arrived.
In June, Dunlop relinquished his seat to newly elected provincial Progressive Conservative party leader Patrick Brown, who gave up his federal seat in Barrie to run in the provincial race.
As Dunlop, a 35-year veteran of politics, watched the Liberal party sweep the Atlantic provinces, he called it a “disaster."
“I think any NDP support went to the Liberals,” Dunlop said. “And I think the same trend is going to sweep across Canada.”
But, he added with a grin, “It’s hard to believe, but that’s politics.”
Barrie Coun. Arif Khan said he, too, was surprised by the Liberal majority election results.
“Earlier this week, I was prepared for a Liberal minority but this came as a surprise,” Khan said. “The anti-Harper trend really picked up. It seemed to take traction on social media, and I almost wonder – I’m not sure how much of it was well-thought out or if it was just a trended vote that just took off."