Gventer, Dobbyn, who finished second and third locally, concerned about PC majority

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Local NDP candidate Karen Gventer and the Liberal's Francesca Dobbyn both say they're worried about the future in Ontario now that Doug Ford's Progressive Conservatives have won a majority government.

“I'm concerned about the health care cuts that are likely to happen, possibly privatization of health care, the other cuts to our services. Overall, I'm concerned about where Ontario is going to head,” Gventer said after it was clear that she had finished second in Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound behind incumbent PC MPP Bill Walker.

She said the “one positive” from Thursday night's election results is that the NDP will form the Official Opposition.

“I'm excited that we've gone up quite a number of seats,” she said. “We can keep holding their feet to the fire.”

Dobbyn, who finished third, said she was really hoping that, if the Liberals were to lose, the next government would be a minority.

“Doug Ford's inexperience in government is of great concern,” she said. “I think a lot of the social programs and things that we moved forward on provincially are at risk.”

With 79 out of 100 polls reporting, Walker had 20,168 votes or 54 per cent, Gventer had 8,996 or 24 per cent and Dobbyn had 4,622 or 12 per cent. The Green Party's Don Marshall finished fourth with 2,405 and the Trillium Party's Elizabeth Marshall had 469. Alliance Party candidate Enos Martin, Consensus candidate Janice Kaikkonen and Libertarian Jay Miller each received less than one per cent of the vote.

Gventer said finishing second was not a total surprise.

“There were times this election that I did think I had a slim chance (of winning) because of the messages I was getting at the door and from the early numbers.”

Dobbyn said she was still processing her third-place finish, but admitted she was disappointed since she entered the race to win it.

“I know we worked really hard, we ran a strong campaign, we got our message out. But I think the provincial level impacted here,” she said.

Dobbyn said she has a great job to return to with the local United Way and she will continue to hold the provincial government accountable on behalf of the community.

Both Gventer and Dobbyn said they would not rule out running again provincially in the riding.

Gventer, a program assistant at the Grey Bruce Health Unit, was acclaimed as Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound's Ontario NDP candidate in January.

This was her second time running for the party provincially in the riding. She finished third in 2014, with about 16 per cent of the vote. Walker won a second term as MPP that year, with 47.55 per cent of the vote, while Liberal Ellen Anderson finished second.

Gventer also ran for the Ontario NDP in Dufferin-Caledon in 2011, finishing fourth. She was twice the federal NDP candidate for Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound.

Gventer said this provincial campaign differed from the others because local voters seemed interested in the election and party platforms from the start.

“The first week when I was out knocking on doors, I was getting the kind of response that is even more engaged than typically is in the last week,” she said.

Gventer said she heard “over and over” from people who didn't want the Liberals to remain in power and those concerned about Ontario's future under a Doug Ford PC government.

“There's a real dislike for Kathleen Wynne, a real dislike for Doug Ford,” she said.

NDP promises to reduce electricity bills by buying back Hydro One, fixing Ontario's health care system, offering universal drug and dental coverage and having the wealthiest Ontarians and most profitable corporations pay more taxes seemed to really resonate with local voters, she said.

Dobbyn, who is on leave as executive director of the United Way of Bruce Grey, was running in her first provincial election campaign. She was acclaimed as the local Liberal candidate in April.

Premier Kathleen Wynne, who attended that meeting, had asked Dobbyn to run.

Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound has never had a Liberal MPP. The former riding of Grey, which included Owen Sound, last went red in 1987.

Dobbyn's main message in this campaign was that, if elected, she would be a strong voice for local families and communities at Queen's Park.

As head of the local United Way, she has become known as an advocate for low-income residents and for her work to lobby the province to ban electricity companies from disconnecting homes in winter and reduce hydro bills.

She has campaigned on the Liberal government's record of increasing the minimum wage and plans to expand free prescription drug coverage and provide free universal preschool child care and post-secondary tuition for more students.

Before the votes were tallied, Dobbyn said she felt her election campaign went “really well.”

Voters were “very receptive” to her message, she said. There was also plenty of worry about the prospect of a Ford government.

“I heard a lot of people were really conflicted; traditional PC voters who like Bill (Walker), respect Bill, but just the Doug Ford piece was such an unknown entity. The total lack of a platform – they didn't know what he stood for, they didn't know what impact was going to come,” she said.



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