- Created on Wednesday, 19 February 2014 13:40
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By NICK FEARNS
Niagara Falls, Niagara-on-the-Lake and Fort Erie have all gone orange.
New Democrat Wayne Gates will be the new member of provincial parliament for the riding after capturing over 14,000 votes to put him past Progressive Conservative Bart Maves, who received over 13,500 votes.
Gates, who celebrated his victory at the Marriot Gateway in Niagara Falls, said, “It feels tremendous. I was very fortunate; I had a good group of volunteers who worked extremely hard in some very tough conditions.”
“You know me. What you see is what you get — moustache and all,” said Gates.
Liberal candidate Joyce Morocco placed a distant third, garnering just over 7,000 votes.
The byelection was called to replace Kim Craitor who resigned last year. Gates’ victory is the second time the NDP has captured the Niagara Falls riding, with Margaret Harrington representing the riding from 1990 to 1995.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath was in Niagara Falls, along with a number of NDP caucus members, to help celebrate the victory.
“We work really hard, to listen to people, to understand what it is they are concerned about and to reflect on that and try to bring hope on those issues,” said Horwath. “Whether it’s fixing our health care system by reducing CEO [chief executive officer] salaries or focusing on youth jobs, which is a big issue. Whether it’s recognizing that people are having a tough time making ends meet.”
Gates, a resident of Niagara Falls, was elected in 2010 to the Niagara Falls city council where he worked with Mayor Jim Diodati.
“Wayne’s always had a strong voice around the city council chamber, and I’m sure he’s going to use that same strong voice to support the constituents at Queen’s Park,” said Diodati. “We spoke a few minutes ago and I said, ‘Wayne, we’ve got different roles but we’ve got the same objective. Let’s make sure we put Niagara Falls front and centre and make sure they understand that we’ve got some needs that need to be met.’”
Maves, who represented the riding before losing it to Craitor, spoke to supporters at the Niagara Falls Curling Club, on Morrison Street, in Niagara Falls.
“Let me congratulate Wayne Gates for his victory and I will wish him luck as he goes forward. He’s got a very tough task trying to right the Niagara ship,” said Maves. “We’ve got great difficulties, as everyone knows, in every part of this riding. I congratulate him on his win and wish him good luck.”
Maves chalked up his defeat to the amount of union support and resources the NDP poured into the riding.
“It is really hard to fight against that amount of money that was sent down by the NDP and were sent down by some of the big unions from across Ontario and the busing in of troops from out of town,” he said.
Morocco, a Niagara Falls city councillor since 2010, said she wouldn’t rule out a return to provincial politics in the future.
With speculation that a spring time election is just around the corner, Gates may find himself defending his seat sooner rather than later.
The results from the byelections in Niagara Falls and Thornhill will not affect the balance of power at Queen’s Park in Toronto, but it does increase the voice of the opposition to the governing Liberal Party.
The Liberals hold 49 out of 107 seats; the Progressive Conservatives occupy 37 seats and the New Democrats hold 21.