By TANDI CHABWA, AUSTIN GOODER and UTSAV GUPTA
A Conservative member of parliament is returning to Ottawa in the Niagara Falls riding.
Rob Nicholson handily defeated Liberal candidate Ron Planche and New Democrat candidate Carolynn Ioannoni.
Nicholson has been the MP of the riding since 2004. He will be one of 100 Conservative MPs in a House of Commons that will see the Liberals form a majority government with 184 seats. The NDP hold 43 seats.
The move came as no surprise to Nicholson’s supporters but the mood at his Cairn Croft campaign party after the polls closed was considerably muted.
The Niagara Falls riding encompasses Fort Erie, Niagara Falls and Niagara-on-the-Lake, and it stayed strongly conservative after other Niagara region polls swayed Liberal.
Nicholson won the riding with 41.8 per cent of the vote, and finished ahead of Planche by 4,917 votes. With all polls reporting at 1:05 a.m. Nicholson tallied a total of 27,235 votes to Planche’s 22,318 and Ioannoni’s 13,521.
The NDP candidate finished a distant third with 21 per cent of the vote.
Green Party candidate Steven Soos captured two and a half per cent with 1,629 votes.
In the riding 62.92 per cent of eligible voters turned out.
Despite the Liberal Party majority win, Nicholson remains optimistic at his ability to affect change in Ottawa.
“I had experience with [sitting in an opposition] in 2004 and I raised issues that were important to the area,” says Nicholson.
“Whether it’s borders or grape and wine industries, auto industries or tourism, I’ll raise the important issues with this government.”
Nicholson’s Conservatives will be the official opposition in the House of Commons, so Nicholson will still be able to provide a voice to Niagara, according to Fort Erie Regional Councillor Sandy Annunziata.
“At the end of the day, it’s always good to hold the government to account,” Annunziata says.
“Rob has proven that, no matter what side of the floor he’s on, he can do a great job for Niagara.”
Annunziata says Nicholson will continue to provide great work for Niagara residents.
“Niagara Falls couldn’t have asked for a better representative in Ottawa.”
Nicholson took some time after his victory speech to speak about how he’ll keep Niagara student interests at the forefront.
“One of the things I have done and continue to do with Niagara College is support their infrastructure applications, not only for new facilities but for new programs too,” Nicholson says.
“I’m an enthusiastic supporter of that.”
Liberal candidate Planche was still displaying a sense of humour even in the face of defeat at his campaign party.
“At least the Blue Jays are still winning,” Planche said with a laugh.
Planche’s supporters were still able to cheer on party leader Justin Trudeau and the rest of the Liberals as they raced towards a dominant majority.
Earlier in the evening, Planche wasn’t optimistic about his chances against the incumbent Nicholson.
“The mountain is awfully high to climb, I’m running against arguably the number two man in the Conservative government,” Planche said.
“We were running against a headwind. Not only is Nicholson a strong local councillor, the issue became ‘Do we have enough wind in our sails?’”
Ioannoni made a late-night appearance at her nearly-abandoned campaign party at Mick and Angelo’s in Niagara Falls.
Only a few NDP supporters were in attendance and the room was nearly empty throughout the night. It was a stark contrast to the lively Conservative and Liberal parties.
Ioannoni didn’t make herself available for comment to Niagara News by press time.