Rickford heading back to Queen’s Park

By Allan Bradbury
Staff Writer

Last Thursday MPP Greg Rickford was re-elected, receiving 59 per cent of Kenora-Rainy River votes. Rickford says he’s taking some time to recover from the campaign trail, but will be ready to go when called back to Queen’s Park in the near future.

Overall, the provincial election was largely lopsided. The Ontario PC Party finished with 83 seats in the provincial legislature far exceeding the runner-up NDP who took 31 seats, and the Ontario Liberal Party that took eight seats, keeping them without official-party status for another election cycle. In addition to the three primary parties, one Green Party candidate was elected as well as one independent candidate. Both NDP and Liberal party leaders — Andrea Horwath and Steven Del Duca respectively — have resigned in the wake of their parties’ losses.

Closer to home, Rickford beat out his next closest opponent — NDP candidate Joanne Formanek Gustafson — 9,231 to 3,097. The next closest was Liberal Anthony Leek with 1,765 votes. The riding had a 38.36 per cent voter turnout which was under the provincial average of 43.03 per cent.

Reached by phone Monday morning, Rickford was complimentary to his opponents.

“Let me say this,” Rickford said. “I’m humbled, truly humbled by the results. I want to thank all of the candidates who put their name forward. I know what a tremendous sacrifice it is.”

Rickford said he believes the results in the riding are consistent with the province and shows what Ontarians want.

“At the end of the day, the numbers in Kenora-Rainy River are entirely consistent with the levels of support pan-provincially,” Rickford said. “That tells us the people of Ontario were looking for certainty and stability in their government. I believe that by the end of our first four-year mandate they’d found it in the Progressive Conservative government and moving forward in a post-pandemic world were looking for a strong, stable Progressive Conservative majority and that’s precisely what the results reflect.”

At this point, Rickford remains active in his roles as Minister of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry, and Minister of Indigenous Affairs in the cabinet of Premier Doug Ford, but said he is unsure what will happen when the legislature resumes.

“I serve at the pleasure of the constituents of Kenora-Rainy River and when it comes to cabinet, at the pleasure of the premier,” Rickford said. “I’ve obviously been honoured and lucky to have served in prominent cabinet positions so far. All I can do at this juncture is await the decision from the premier as to whether that will continue.”

As to when MPPs may be called back to Queen’s Park, no one knows at the moment. The new Ford government will have to form a cabinet and pass a budget for the year before breaking off for the summer. Whether the budget tabled before the legislature closed for the election will remain the same is another unknown.