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The empire struck back in Burlington, a riding that had for decades been perhaps the most stalwart Progressive Conservative provincial seat in Ontario until the Liberals won it four years ago.
PC candidate Jane McKenna won the rematch with incumbent Liberal Eleanor McMahon, after having lost a shocker to McMahon in 2014.
McKenna secured 25,502 votes, or 40.4 per cent of the total vote.
“I’m thrilled that we won a majority government,” McKenna told supporters whooping it up at her headquarters in Burlington after being declared winner. “We are finally going to clean up this mess (at Queen’s Park) ... Enjoy tonight, it’s a celebration, and I thank you all for this opportunity.”
But clearly the times they-are-a-changing in the once true-blue riding, because the NDP placed a strong second — a rare event in Burlington. As poll results came in at the headquarters, supporters cheered hearing that McKenna was winning, but gasped at how well the NDP was doing.
Polling late in the race had suggested that for the PCs, happy days might well be here again in the riding, with challenger McKenna — who was MPP from 2011-2014 — in the lead, but also showed NDP candidate Andrew Drummond making a serious charge.
Drummond’s surge was pronounced enough that NDP leader Andrea Horwath made one of her final visits of the campaign to his constituency office, two days before election day.
“(The riding) used to be very homogenous and it has grown into the diverse community it is today,” Drummond told the Burlington Post.
Voter volatility seems the new normal, after the PCs had won Burlington in 21 straight Ontario elections dating back to 1943, even through the David Peterson and Dalton McGuinty Liberal landslides in the late 1980s and early 2000s.
(Its electoral boundaries were established in 1999 from parts of Burlington South, Halton Centre, and a small portion of South Oakville.)