Liberals keep seat in riding

Sam Odrowski

Voters in the Thunder Bay-Rainy River riding followed suit with much of the rest of Canada, keeping the Liberals in power here for another four years.

Following a term served by Don Rusnak, who did not seek re-election this year, new liberal MP Marcus Powlowski secured 14,336 votes, beating runner up Linda Rydholm of the Conservative Party by 2,352 votes, who received 11,984, of the 40,541 votes cast.

The NDP, who have a long history getting elected in the riding, narrowly came in third with 11,708 votes, followed by Amanda Moddejonge of the Green Party who received 1,783 votes and the People’s Party of Canada candidate, Andrew Hartnell who had 730.

“I think the campaign went really well, there weren’t any major hiccups along the way. I don’t think I would have done that much differently,” Powlowski remarked.

“There is a learning curve and next time it will be easier certainly with the name recognition; it won’t be as much of a problem.”

Powlowski’s said his focus now as MP is to follow through with campaign promises such as working to renew contracts at Bombardier and getting a private care home at Fort Williams First Nation.

Getting a better understanding of the mill situation in Fort Frances and creating more employment opportunities here are other areas of focus, he noted.

“We got to get people into Fort Frances and give people an option so when their kids get older they don’t have to leave town and go somewhere else for work,” Powlowski stressed.

He told the Times he’s pleased with the Liberals’ performance in the election and thinks a lot of Canadians recognized what’s been accomplished in the last four years, and put their differences with Justin Trudeau aside.

“I think the media often gets sidetracked with superficial issues, whereas when you look at the substantive body of what was accomplished, it looks pretty good,” he said.

“The economy is strong. The unemployment rate in May was the lowest its been since 1976. Inflation is steady,” Powlowski added, while also noting what Trudeau has done for disadvantaged groups during his time in office.

“I think people kind of realize, when push came to shove, it wasn’t that bad with the Liberals.”

Powlowski has been an ER physician at the Thunder Bay hospital for the past 16 years and attributes part of his success to his medical affiliation.

He told the Times he estimates at least 2,000 of the votes he received were likely due to the fact he’s treated an elector or one of their family members at the hospital at some point during his career.

Meanwhile, NDP candidate Won said she is proud of herself and her team for running a strong campaign and coming close to securing the riding.

“Here in Thunder Bay and Rainy River it was a tight race, I think, as new candidates, everybody just put everything into it. And by the results, it could have really been anybody’s day,” she remarked.

“It was a close race here and I think if you look at the numbers for even the NDP and the parties other than the Liberals–it wasn’t an easy win.

“They have to listen to Canadians about their uncertainty and now they have to prove themselves,” Won added.

She said she’s grateful to the nearly 12,000 voters here who chose the NDP this election.

“I want them to know this is just a continuation of all the hard work that the NDP has always done and that we look forward to building that momentum because this is not the last time people will see my name.”

Meanwhile, runner-up Linda Rydholm of the Conservatives said while she’s not shocked by the outcome in Thunder Bay-Rainy River, she is let down with the overall vote across Canada.

“I had thought that more voters would not support a prime minister who was unethical and who mismanaged our country’s finances,” she charged. “I’m very disappointed in Canadian voters overall.”

Rydholm partly attributed the Conservatives’ showing in some Ontario ridings to the electorate being unable to differentiate between the provincial and federal government.

“I’m certain that the Doug Ford factor cost us seats in Ontario,” she noted. “I’m very disappointed in the south and southern-eastern Ontario vote.”

However, she said she’s pleased with the progress made by the Conservatives in the Thunder Bay-Rainy River riding, considering voters haven’t elected a Conservative MP in 84 years.

“Thunder Bay-Rainy River is traditionally a Liberal stronghold. When people get upset here, then the NDP slip through . . . So I knew it was going to be an uphill battle,” Rydholm explained.

“Overall, I was very pleased with the reception I had out in the region.”

Green Party candidate Moddejonge said while she’s disappointed her party didn’t make more gains than it did in the recent election, she respects Canada’s collective decision to re-elect Trudeau.

“I’m really sad Canadians didn’t have more choices in this election,” she remarked.

“It seemed that there was two big parties fighting over nonsense and I really wish that the leaders themselves and the parties would have listened to more of what Canada needs so it wasn’t another election where everybody’s strategically voting.”

Going forward, Moddejonge wants to see a more honest and open Trudeau government over the next four years.

“I really hope we have an awful lot more transparency. We were promised this in the last election and we know full well it wasn’t realized,” she quipped, in reference to the SNC Lavelin scandal and Trudeau’s blackface incidents.

Meanwhile, Hartnell of the PPC said he’s disappointed in the results of the Thunder Bay-Rainy River riding and across Canada, where the party was unable to secure a single seat but recognized the party is new and growing.

“I was hoping that we could get some seats and try to get the ball rolling on this but we’re a year old, we really can’t have too high of expectations,” he noted.

“We’re just starting out, we don’t have a lot of resources.”

Hartnell told the Times he’s thankful for the support the PPC did receive and is hopeful that it will continue to grow.