NDP MPP Wayne Gates will be back at Queen’s Park representing Niagara Falls, Niagara-on-the-Lake and Fort Erie for another term, this time as a member of the official opposition.
He won the riding in Thursday's provincial election with more than 50 per cent of the vote, the largest number in the history of the riding, with PC Chuck McShane behind him with 35 per cent.
After a busy morning Friday picking up election signs, he said he was elated by the support shown in the polls, but not surprised.
“I'm never surprised. I'm always very consistent, using every ounce of energy working for my constituents.”
He said the vote reflects that people recognize how hard he worked, and realize his sincerity and his passion for their community.
“Every four years, you go back to the residents of the community, and they let you know whether you've done your job. The residents sent a clear message — keep up the same hard work you've done in the past. That makes me feel good.”
But he admits to being a little surprised at the strength of their support, especially in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
He was at the Supper Market on Niven Road Wednesday evening, and many people were letting him know he had their vote, he said.
That was reflected in the numbers Thursday.
“We did very well in Niagara-on-the-Lake, especially in the Old Town, where we got over 1,000 votes,” said Gates.
“That was the icing on the cake.”
When the NOTL results were shown on the screen at the Marriott on the Falls hotel Thursday evening, “a big cheer went up,” said Gates.
He said he's proud of the clean campaign he ran, and of the results, but it wouldn't have happened without a great team behind him.
“I'm very proud of all of them, but especially the young people. We had a lot of young people out working hard for us, and they were having fun doing it. It's great to see — they're our future.”
Throughout his election campaign, Gates, former president of Unifor 199, said he is happy to work with with people of all political parties for the betterment of the community, and would continue to do so.
As a member of the opposition under a Doug Ford government, he will continue to work for what's important to his riding, he said.
“I'm a little long in the tooth. I've been working with people all my life, it doesn't matter who they are. I will continue to make sure our issues are heard at Queen's Park and to speak out about what's important to this riding. I was happy to hear Doug Ford promise he'll bring the GO Train to Niagara and build our new hospital. He's the one who made the promises. We'll have to see what he does.”
Gates' job will be to continue to push for more hospital beds and staff, to eliminate hallway medicine, to make sure development doesn't occur on the greenbelt and to protect the natural heritage of Niagara, he said. He's also concerned about the future of museums and libraries in the riding, he said, which would be devastated by cuts to funding, and will work hard to ensure they receive the support they need.
The unofficial totals from Thursday night showed Gates with 30,161 votes, PC Chuck McShane with 21,126, Dean DeDimizio of the Liberal Party with 5,554 votes, 2,057 for Karen Fraser of the Green Party, Libertarian Shaun Somers with 314 votes and Goran Zubic of the Ontario Moderate Party with 169 votes.