Conservatives take hit in Rainy River-Thunder Bay riding

Early poll results Monday night were on par with recent media predictions, with the hopeful Conservatives just barely trailing the Liberals in the new Thunder Bay-Rainy River riding.
But the tide quickly turned, and the mood in David Leskowski’s campaign headquarters in Thunder Bay turned from hopeful to defeated in a very short time as they watched their numbers drop.
Leskowski’s supporters tuned in to CTV, cheering each time the Conservatives won a riding. Likewise, every announcement that a riding had been lost to the NDP or Liberals was met with a chorus of “boos” and jabs at the opposing parties.
“I think the Liberals and NDP launched an attack against us unfairly based on fear,” said Leskowski. “And I’m disappointed that we weren’t able to counter that.”
Ken Boshcoff, the Liberal candidate in this riding, leaped to the top of the polls Monday night and was declared elected long before the final ballots had been tallied.
“I’m expecting more of the same because we’ve had Liberal MPs up until now and if people wanted the status quo, then they chose it,” Leskowski said following the announcement of a Liberal win.
Of the 35,537 votes cast across the riding, preliminary results showed Boshcoff with 14,003 votes (39.4 percent), NDP candidate John Rafferty with 10,602 votes (29.8 percent), and Leskowski third with 9,314 (26.2 percent).
The poll-by-poll breakdown likely will be available by Friday.
At the federal level, despite the tightest race Canadians have seen in decades, the national voter turnout—at just 60.5 percent—was the lowest since 1898.
The Thunder Bay-Rainy River riding saw an even lower turnout at the polls, with only 56.1 percent of eligible voters showing up to cast their votes.
Steve Hobbs, a volunteer for Leskowski’s campaign, said he believes they ran a good campaign and did a good job of increasing awareness in a short period of time.
“It was a tight three-way race and unfortunately Boshcoff won, which I think is due to his good base support,” said Hobbs. “And he has the name recognition there.”
Leskowski also believes the familiarity of Boshcoff’s name, as a former mayor of the city, played a big role in him being elected. He also cited the Conservative Party’s national campaign as a factor in his loss locally.
“I honestly feel that we were affected by the national campaign,” Leskowski said, adding that while he believes Conservative leader Stephen Harper ran a good campaign, he thinks some of the controversial statements made by others in his party affected the image they were trying to convey.
But Leskowski maintained he’d like to run again and that he enjoyed running for office, which he attributed largely to the support he received from his family and volunteers.
“It was 100 percent commitment from the least and 110 percent commitment on average,” he remarked. “The level of commitment on our campaign was not a factor in our loss at all.”