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11 min

ONTARIO VOTES: Live blogging coverage of the election and referendum

A queer perspective on the results and races

Xtra.ca’s Marcus and Julia are blogging about today’s Ontario election, with a queer look at the results and key ridings.

Keep hitting refresh for constant updates throughout the night.

UPDATE: Check out a video report of Ottawa-Centre’s race here.

Marcus McCann is the news editor of Capital Xtra in Ottawa.

Julia Garro is the associate editor of Xtra in Toronto.

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Julia – 12:36am: Also of note tonight the referendum on MMP did not get the supermajority that it need to become Ontario’s electoral system. Don’t forget to check out Xtra.ca’s look at what happens next: Ontario vote on MMP fails, early results suggest.

Thank you for tuning in to Xtra.ca’s live coverage of the 2007 Ontario election and sharing your election night with us!

Marcus – 12:30am: For those of you still with us, we are waiting on conclusive results in one swing queer riding, York South-Weston. That riding is where a gay NDP candidate, Paul Ferreira, won a by-election in February 2007, and is now trailing by 462 votes, with 201 of 248 polls reporting.

As we wind down our coverage for the night, the Liberals are leading or elected in 71 ridings, the PCs are leading or elected in 25 ridings and the NDP leading or elected in 11.

Of note:

Two openly gay cabinet ministers, Health Minister George Smitherman and Education Minister Kathleen Wynne, were resoundingly returned to office.

Cheri DiNovo, the United Church minister who took the Parkdale-High Park by-election last year, was also reelected. Her so-called “Toby’s Law” would protect gender identity from discrimination.

Health Promotions Minister Jim Watson was returned to office.

London West returned Liberal Chris Bentley to office, but NDP candidate Paul Pighin made history as the first openly poz candidate on the Ontario ballot.

Julia – 12:08am: Well, in handing him a majority Ontario’s voters haven’t given McGuinty a whole lot of incentive to do things differently. I think it’ll be up to us — media types and regular citizens — to remind the Liberals that it wasn’t so much that they won big as that the Tories lost big. And yes, the decision was very much connected to the visceral reaction Ontarians had against faith-based schools. But all the criticisms of the Liberal government going into the election are just as valid now.

As for MMP there really wasn’t enough of an education campaign around it to make it a fair vote. I for one would like to see a repeat of the referendum in the next election. I suspect that when the popular vote is used to show how MMP might have changed the representation in this new government people will really begin to understand how it could make a difference. It’s a brilliant opportunity to increase participation in that every vote counts. It deserves revisiting.

Marcus – 12:02am: Do you think McGuinty deserved a majority, Julia? Or did the public’s fear of religious school funding cause all other considerations to fall off the page? I mean, this guy has governed like a Bill David Tory, not like a Liberal like David Peterson. Most of the awful things that Mike Harris put in place are still there. He’s restored only about one-quarter of the funding for cities that Harris strangled off. Harris really hated cities and all they stood for and really put to Toronto in particular. It used to be The City That Works. But now, there’s not enough money to pay for all the responsibilities that Harris dumped on them. McGuinty speaks a lot about cities, but he’s not doing very much to reverse it.

It’s the same with the referendum on MMP. McGuinty, after being pressured by Greenie Greg Laxton, had a committee made up of average citizens take a look at our electoral system. That’s the electoral system that so many of us hate, and is causing more and more people to tune out from politics and not vote. They recommended a new approach. And then McGuinty sat on it for so long instead of educating people about it, and then set unrealistic goals for a referendum, asked a confusing question, and then didn’t fund a proper two-sided debate. Surprise! The referendum failed tonight. McGuinty is to blame for putting the fix in on this vote.

Will he govern like a real Liberal for his second term? Or will he do his Red Tory imitation again? What do you think, Julia?

Julia – 11:58pm: John Tory stopped by Kathleen Wynne’s victory party to wish her well. There was a double kiss and everything.

Julia – 11:44pm: Oh wait, let me channel the dead! The Famous Five are telling me they’re proud that, once again, there is an increase in the number of women elected to Queen’s Park. It looks like there’ll be at least 27 this time around, up from 22 in the 2003 election. There had been some concern that the number of women elected would drop this election because of the number of female MPPS that weren’t seeking reelection, but apparently that hasn’t been the case.

Marcus – 11:34pm: Ottawa Centre, which boasts the second largest gay population in Ontario, has been declared Liberal. Yasir Naqvi will keep the seat for that party.

Yesterday, PC candidate Trina Morissette held a press conference with one of her campaigners — former Ottawa mayor Jackie Holzman — to say there aren’t enough women in politics (duh). They held their press conference at a Parliament Hill statue of the Famous Five (Nellie McClung, Emily Murphy, uh… Henrietta Muir Edwards, Louise McKinney and Irene Parlby), the women who fought to enfranchise women with voting rights.

Holzman, spectacularly, tried to channel the dead, saying the Famous Five would be proud of the PC candidate. It’s pretty bad if you resort to the endorsement of the dead, don’t you think? Meanwhile, they’re running the least women of anyone: 24 to the Liberals’ 38 and the NDP’s 42.

Having Holzman on your campaign team (as Ottawa’s current right wing mayor did) sends an interesting message, since the queer community filed several human rights complaints against her for refusing to recognize Pride in the 90s. Ahem.

I think that’s part of the story: three-way races become no contest races when the soft Conservatives turn red. For the record, probably more to do with the leader than the first-time candidate, in Morissette?s case.

Julia – 11:28pm: Hampton was looking a little rough.

So it looks like Xtra.ca’s predictions held up well, except for Ottawa Centre. What happened there, Marcus?

Marcus – 11:15pm: It’s one of only five ridings not being decided.

Lanark went to Randy Hillier, but it was a squeaker.

Is Howard Hampton crying?

Julia – 11:12pm: Um, no, but thank you for thinking of me, Marcus. If she’d won a seat I’d have suggested Sandra González who ran against Smitherman. She’s got smarts and style.

York-South Weston still hasn’t been decided. Ferreira is still trailing a few percentage points.

Marcus – 11:06pm: So, who wants to lead the provincial NDP? Do you, Julia?

On the radio, they’re already talking about Cheri DiNovo as the next leader. No kidding. But given the rancorous schools debate, is there an appetite for a United Church Minister? Who else? Can I nominate Olivia Chow?

Julia – 11:02pm: Tory’s saying his piece now. His French is signficantly less good. He’s staying on as leader for the time being.

Yes, Dalton’s speech was a bit on the arrogant side. He seems to be trying to ride the spin that the decision is about confidence in the Liberal party and that just doesn’t mesh with what I’m hearing from people who voted Liberal.

Marcus – 10:56pm: That smile. So rascally. At the outset of the campaign, voters were ready to punish McGuinty. Given the number of times I heard the phrase “I’m holding my nose” in relation to how someone was going to be voting, he should be probably keeping a more humble face.

A bit bland, on the whole. Did his speech rub you the wrong way or was it just me?

Smitherman? He’s also trying to move on lifting the gay blood ban. Yeah, not a perfect candidate but let’s hope he moves on SRS this term. No, let’s not hope. Let’s remind him — as many times as it takes — that it’s the right thing to do.

Julia – 10:45pm: Wow, Dalton’s French isn’t half bad.

Liberal George Smitherman has once again taken Toronto Centre. As Health Minister he failed to relist sex reassignment surgery, something that really needs to be rectified. On the other hand organizations like the Lesbian Gay Bi Trans Youth Line and Toronto’s Sherbourne Health Centre and its queer-focused health programs have enjoyed support with Smitherman in charge of health. Let’s see what George does with another four years.

Marcus – 10:41pm: MMP — what next. If you go to the xtra.ca mainpage, you can click on the link to find out what the pundits think is in the future, with respect to electoral reform. Okay, Dalton’s going to talk now.

Marcus – 10:39pm: Oooh. Dalton’s on the TV. You’ll notice we just changed our front page image to reflect his second majority.

Julia – 10:32pm: Hillier as the next PC leader?! Don’t even joke.

Liberal Chris Bentley has predictably been reelected in London West, but I’m raising a glass to NDP’s Paul Pighin, the first openly HIV-positive candidate to run in Ontario. He used the election as a means to raise issues of inadequate support for PWAs in the province. Let’s hope this new Liberal majority picks up on that.

Marcus – 10:23pm: Speaking of which, Randy Hillier, the anti-gay ex-Lanark Landowner’s Association prez, appears to be going to Queen’s Park for the first time as an MPP, rather than in a tractor. Maybe he should be the next leader of the PCs.

Cheri DiNovo is going back to Queen’s Park. It looks like the fight for trans rights in Ontario will have it?s champion, the NDP MPP elected a year ago in a by election.

Julia – 10:20pm: Okay, so the scary part about Tory’s defeat is the speculation that one of the neo-cons in the party will step up to take his place. Yeesh. Something to keep an eye on for sure.

Marcus – 10:12pm: Xtra.ca staff are working on a MMP story. What happens next if the referendum fails?

By the way, I saw former Egale interim executive director Kaj Hasselriis out at the gay bar in Hamilton over the weekend when I was home for Thanksgiving. He’s working for the Ontario NDP… they were pouring resources into Hamilton and it looks like it worked. Interesting.

In Ottawa Centre where I am now, a lot of soft Liberals seemed to be voting NDP. But the Liberal candidate, Yasir Naqvi, is now leading. Tight race.

Julia – 10:11pm: And it’s official. John Tory is defeated. What a burn.

Julia – 10:03pm: Wynne is enjoying a big win here. Not only has she all but been confirmed as reelected, commentators are suggesting that she may make a good party leader down the road. The first openly lesbian premier… I like the sound of that!

Julia – 9:56pm: Okay, so MMP numbers are coming in. So far 37 percent are for it but that’s not going to be near enough. It’s going to take a supermajority of 60 percent of all the votes and by at least 50 percent of the voters in 64 of the 107 ridings. But even if it fails tonight at least the idea is out there that there are other models for Ontarians to consider.

Marcus – 9:39pm: Gosh, there are some close races. Ottawa Centre is a nailbiter, gay NDPer Ferriera’s York South-Weston, Cheri DiNovo in Parkdale-High Park (she’s back in the lead, by the way).

No results reported yet for Ottawa West-Nepean. That’s where Liberal health promotions minister Jim Watson is hoping to be returned to cabinet. He’s generally considered to be among the more progressive Libs.

You know what I’m really sad about? John Tory wanted to put Ontario wine and beer in convenience stores… it was my favourite election pledge from John Tory. Gays are serious about partying: I think it’s a queer issue. And it’s not threatening from the income side, because the LCBO brings in around a billion bucks a year. Maybe next time.

Julia – 9:44pm: Yes, it was a quick result for sure. Frustratingly it’s being spun as a resounding victory for McGuinty’s Liberals as opposed to a resounding rejection of Tory’s faith-based schools. Interestingly I haven’t seen anything yet on the referendum results. Then again there hasn’t been one in Ontario since the 1920s (the repeal of prohibition) so it’s hard to know what to expect in terms of coverage!

Marcus – 9:39pm: CBC is projecting a Liberal majority already. How long did that take? 35 minutes?

Okay, the Ottawa-Centre race: it looks like the Liberals may lose their seat to the NDP. The NDP candidate, Will Murray, ran on a save-our-cities platform which appears to have registered with voters, including Ontario’s second largest concentration of gay voters.

The NDP looks to be stealing some ridings and popular vote. But not too much. Nothing seismic.

Julia – 9:34pm: Wynne’s lead appears to be widening. Yes, it’s bad news for John Tory all around. He seriously misjudged voters on the faith-based schools issue and, as Howard Hampton pointed out last week, the issue really dominated the campaign so that a lot of other important issues got brushed aside.

Marcus – 9:29pm: Wynne slightly ahead; the two by-election NDPers behind. But with just one polling station reporting.

No surprise so far on the big picture. Libs looking to gain, rather than lose, ground in this election. One of the outcomes I’m hopeful about with this kind of a result: I hope it puts a chill on campaigning about public funding for religious projects. The enormous flop of the faith-based schools pledge should send a message to politicians that, while voters may have private beliefs, they vote secularly. Don’t campaign on God, you know?

Julia – 9:25pm. Also behind for the moment is DiNovo… it looks like those NDP by-election seats may be at more risk than was expected.

Marcus – 9:15pm: Hmmm. The Hamilton-area tie, by the way, was an electoral redistricting shenanigan by the Cons, my guess was to water down progressive votes in Westdale and Dundas. That’s Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale.

Julia – 9:13pm: I mentioned that Ferreira’s race would be tight… right now Liberal Laura Albanese is in front, but it’s early yet.

Julia – 9:11pm: Yes, DiNovo’s private member’s bill “Toby’s Law” would provide explicit protection for trans people from discrimination by adding “gender identity” to the Ontario Human Rights Code. DiNovo has promised that if she’s reelected she’ll reintroduce it. The numbers are coming in now so we’ll know soon enough.

Marcus – 9:03pm: Interesting about Ferreira. Not a lot of people mention that Hampton won four out of 10 Ontario by-elections, including Cheri DiNovo’s NDP victory in Parkdale-High Park. She’s the one responsible for the private member’s bill on trans rights.

Julia – 8:57pm: Low turnout isn’t always bad for the queers… just look at openly gay NDP Paul Ferreira. He won his York South-Weston seat in a by-election last February on a day that it was so cold that turnout was way down. He won by a slim margin and he hasn’t been in the seat all that long… it’s possible that he’ll lose it but I’m hoping not.

But yes, MMP or Mixed Member Proportional is likely to be good for all sorts of minorities — queers, people of colour, women, religious minorities. The idea is that every voter gets two chances to make a decision about their provincial goverment: one vote for the local representative and one vote for a party. Any party that wins three percent of the vote would then get seats at Queen’s Park that aren’t tied to region. (For those who want to find out more about MMP check out Five reasons why Ontarians should vote for MMP.)

Marcus – 8:53pm: I think low turnout is probably bad for gays. Typically it’s where non-traditional voters come to the polls do we see a change. I don’t think anyone’s predicting that tonight.

You mentioned the referendum — on the whole, most people are suggesting it would be a net good for minorities.

Julia – 8:49: Quite likely. I had been hoping that the referendum question would bring more voters out despite the lacklustre campaign itself, but it doesn’t look like that’s been the case.

Marcus – 8:44pm: She had monster mid-election polling results. I think that’s a good bet. By the way, we’ve just posted some of the key ridings here.

Okay, let me test this out on you. Combine the following: most Ontarians couldn’t vote before work, the weather was lousy, leader’s approval ratings are all low, and the Libs are polling 15 points ahead of the Conservatives. Isn’t that a formula for low voter turnout?

Julia – 8:41pm: She is popular in the riding. She took it away from the Conservative David Turnbull in 2003 by more than 6,000 votes. She’d been a Toronto District School Board trustee before running for the seat… but still, it was a pretty impressive win. I’m predicting she takes it again tonight.

Marcus – 8:40pm: Oh for sure. I’ve got mixed feelings about Wynne. I guess her big queer setpiece was “character education”. From what I understand, she’s popular in the riding generally, right? What’s your prediction?

Julia – 8:36pm: Well Marcus there are a couple ridings that will be worth watching. The one that has a lot of us paying close attention is the race between Conservative leader John Tory and Liberal Kathleen Wynne.

Marcus – 8:30pm: Thanks for joining us for Xtra.ca’s first election results liveblogging experience. If all goes well, you’ll be seeing more of this around the site. I’ve been doing finger sprints all day preparing for this. Julia, what should queer Ontarians be paying attention to tonight?

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