BY ANDREW SMITH
THE MINTO EXPRESS
LISTOWEL – It was a night of small victories for the Ontario PC Party in Perth-Wellington, as incumbent MPP Randy Pettapiece was re-elected for a second term.
“This beats waiting until midnight to see if you won or not,” Pettapiece said to supporters gathered at the Listowel Kin Station on Thursday night, referring to his 2011 victory over Liberal MPP John Wilkinson with a margin of just over 200 votes. Pettapiece pulled ahead of Liberal candidate Stewart Skinner early in the evening, finishing the night with a strong lead of nearly 2,500 votes that Pettapiece credited to a level of trust among Perth-Wellington voters.
“I think over the past two and a half years we’ve represented the riding in opposition in a very good way,” he said. “I do believe it’s a level of trust I’ve gained, and in the next four years I hope to improve on that.”
In his victory speech, Pettapiece said his win would not have been possible without the dedication of his campaign team and volunteers, knocking on doors all across the riding.
“I was proud to campaign with you every step of the way,” he said. “I may be biased but I think this is the best campaign team we’ve ever seen.”
In speaking to voters during the campaign, Pettapiece said the rising cost of energy was a common concern, as was the threat of industrial wind turbines to rural communities. Despite the Ontario Liberals winning a majority government, Pettapiece is hopeful the government’s policy on wind turbines is changed.
“We still see a government that’s imposing these unwanted wind turbines on rural Ontario,” he said. “I do hope they look at rural Ontario and give planning authority back to municipalities.”
Pettapiece said his work representing the people of Perth-Wellington begins tomorrow, and he’ll continue to fight for rural representation at Queen’s Park.
“The election is over, but we go back to work on behalf of all people in Perth-Wellington, no matter where they live and no matter how they voted,” Pettapiece said. “I think we’ve been fairly successful doing that at Queen’s Park.”
Pettapiece was unwilling to speculate on the future of the Ontario PCs, as provincial leader Tim Hudak announced his resignation following Thursday night’s defeat.
Although Perth-Wellington Liberal candidate Stewart Skinner faced some personal defeat of his own on Thursday, he took some comfort in his party winning a majority government.
“Would I have liked to see a different result here in Perth-Wellington? Most definitely,” Skinner said. “That being said, I know Randy is going to do a good job representing the people across the riding.”
Skinner admitted the race in Perth-Wellington was an uphill battle going into the election, but feels he made some strong strides with voters during the campaign.
“We did a great job, working hard and knocking on doors, and now everybody knows who Stewart Skinner is,” he said. “We’ll see what happens in a few years down the road.”