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Federal election results mixed for Ontario gays

Tories and NDP gain at Grits' expense

Federal election night served up mixed results for Ontario’s gay and lesbians.

Across the province, Tory and NDP candidates sent several gay-unfriendly Liberal MPs packing. The new Tories who took their spots, however, might not be much of an improvement.

The Liberals were the biggest losers in Ontario. They lost more seats than they won in the province for the first time in 20 years. Both the Tories and the NDP gained at the Grits’ expense.

Conservative candidates snatched nearly a dozen Ontario ridings formerly held by the Liberals in last night’s election, and the NDP knocked off its own share of Grits — five in total — across the province.

The Tories snatched no less than 10 seats from the Liberals in suburban, rural, and northern Ontario, unseating eight incumbents and claiming two other ridings where the sitting MPs decided not to run again.

After the dust settled, the Tories won 51 seats, the same number of Liberal MPs in the province at the dissolution of Parliament. The Liberals won 38, losing a handful of incumbents and reclaiming only a couple of seats lost in the 2006 election. The NDP bumped its provincial caucus from 12 to 17 members, nearly sweeping the province’s northern ridings.

Tory MP Lois Brown took over for Belinda Stronach in Newmarket-Aurora, one of the coveted suburban seats claimed by the Tories.

In Huron-Bruce, newly minted Conservative MP Ben Lobb filled the seat vacated by retiring Liberal Paul Steckle, one of several dozen Grits to vote against same-sex marriage in 2005.

According to the Campaign Life Coalition (CLC) website, a number of elected Conservatives are opposed to abortion: Ed Holder in London West; Brown in Newmarket-Aurora; Phil McColeman in Brant, who the site also claims is opposed to same-sex marriage; and Stephen Woodworth in Kitchener Centre.

The site also lists new Mississauga MP Bob Dechert as opposed to same-sex marriage.

The CLC reports that Thornhill MP (and former Global TV anchor) Peter Kent and Halton MP Lisa Raitt are both pro-choice.

Many of the claims are based on hearsay and anonymous sources, and only one of the candidates filled out the CLC’s election questionnaire.

Woodworth, who knocked off incumbent Liberal Karen Redman by just over 300 votes, told the CLC that he would oppose any measures that legitimize abortion. He would also “strive to introduce and pass laws to protect unborn children from the time of conception onward.”

Redman voted in favour of same-sex marriage legislation.

The Liberals lost seats to the political right and to the left, but while the Tories beat some pro-gay Liberals, the NDP unseated a number who oppose same-sex marriage.

Welland MP Malcolm Allen and new northern MP John Rafferty both beat Grits who voted against the marriage bill in 2005. Allen beat John Maloney and Rafferty bested Ken Boshcoff.

Claude Gravelle topped Liberal Louise Portelance in Nickel Belt, a riding formerly held by Raymond Bonin, an MP who voted against same-sex marriage.

And Bruce Hyer claimed the seat vacated by recent retiree Joe Comuzzi, a Liberal-turned-Conservative who was booted from cabinet in 2005 for opposing same-sex marriage.

The NDP knocked off long-time Liberal MP Diane Marleau in Sudbury. Glenn Thibeault beat Marleau — who was first elected in 1988 and voted for same-sex marriage — by just over 2,000 votes.

Carol Hughes also beat Brent St Denis, an Algoma-area MP who supported same-sex marriage.

Just to the east, Health Minister Tony Clement blew away his competition in Parry Sound-Muskoka. The embattled minister was hammered throughout the last two sessions of Parliament for his handling of the health portfolio. Critics blasted him for his opposition to, among other harm reduction projects and funding, the Insite safe injection site in Vancouver.

Although Clement only won the riding by 28 votes in 2006, Clement claimed over 50 per cent of the vote in the Oct 14 election. Other prominent Tory and Mike Harris-era ministers Jim Flaherty and John Baird, in Whitby-Oshawa and Ottawa West-Nepean, respectively, also both won comfortably.

Every cabinet minister in Ontario won their seat. The Tories handily won the popular vote in the province, securing 39 per cent of ballots cast. The Liberals were second with 34 per cent, while the NDP trailed with 18 per cent. The Greens, who failed to win a seat in the province but did place second Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound, earned eight per cent of the vote.