Published May 2, 2024

Progressive Conservatives win both Ontario byelections

By Liam Casey

Updated May 2, 2024 @ 11:10pm

Premier Doug Ford's Progressive Conservative candidates have won both Ontario byelections by convincing margins.

Progressive Conservative candidate Zee Hamid, who has Liberal roots, won by more than 2,400 votes, or nine percentage points, over Liberal Galen Naidoo Harris in the riding of Milton, just west of Mississauga.

Fellow PC candidate Steve Pinsonneault has drawn 56 per cent of the votes with more than 95 per cent of the polls reporting in the Tory stronghold of Lambton-Kent-Middlesex.

"I feel great," Hamid said after his win. "I think it's an affirmation of the great work that our PC Party is doing in Ontario and people voted to continue that."

Ford celebrated with Hamid at his victory party.

"We're fortunate, we're blessed, but we're very humbled about the victory," he said.

"We couldn't ask for two better candidates than Zee and Steve."

The Liberals finished securely in second in both byelections with Official Opposition New Democrats coming in a distant third.

"Tonight’s results in Milton and Lambton-Kent-Middlesex send a strong message: Bonnie Crombie and Ontario’s Liberals are the only alternative to Doug Ford," the Ontario Liberal Party said in a statement.

"Ontario Liberals will continue to hold the Ford Conservatives accountable for choosing to reward their rich insider friends instead of fighting for the real people of Ontario."

Milton has been vacant since cabinet minister Parm Gill resigned in February to join the federal Conservatives.

Hamid, a three-term Milton councillor, donated to the Liberals as recently as 2022 and unsuccessfully sought a federal Liberal nomination in 2015.

Polls and observers suggested Milton would have been a tighter race.

Further southwest, Lambton-Kent-Middlesex was held since 2011 by Monte McNaughton, who served in Opposition for the Progressive Conservatives and was made a cabinet minister in Premier Doug Ford's government, and Tory candidate Pinsonneault retained the seat for the party.

The Liberal candidate there is Cathy Burghardt-Jesson, the mayor of Lucan Biddulph. Kathryn Shailer is running for the NDP while Andraena Tilgner is the Green candidate.

In Milton, Edie Strachan is the NDP candidate and Kyle Hutton is running for the Greens.

Ford paid Milton a lot of attention during the byelection and in the lead up to it, with announcements on GO Transit service and Highway 413, and has had many cabinet ministers and other caucus members canvassing there.

While a Tory loss in Milton would not have affected Ford's majority, the party already lost a seat in a byelection last year that had been held by another cabinet minister and doesn't want a repeat. 

For the Liberals, the byelection marks the first real test for Bonnie Crombie, who was crowned leader in December. The former Mississauga mayor considered then decided against running for the Milton seat herself.

Banner image: Voters line up to cast a ballot in the Ontario provincial elections in Toronto on Thursday, June 7, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Donovan

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 2, 2024.

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