Starter Dowdall takes top spot and hangs on to win Simcoe-Gray

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After taking the early lead, Conservative candidate Terry Dowdall built an insurmountable margin to win the riding of Simcoe-Gray on Monday night.

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Dowdall led five other candidates in Simcoe-Gray, including Liberal Party candidate Bren Munro, who edged Dowdall by nearly 600 votes earlier.

NDP candidate Lucas Gillies, People’s Party candidate Adam Minatel, Green Party candidate Nick Clayton and Christian Heritage Party candidate Ken Stouffer completed the end of the first results of the polls.

Earlier Monday, Dowdall said he and his team spent each of the 36 days of the federal election campaign knocking on doors and speaking with voters.

He said that in those conversations people told him they were tired of the status quo of a Liberal led federal government.

The incumbent who was first elected to represent Simcoe-Gray in 2019 said this election had a much more confrontational tone.

“I’ve never seen anything like it to be honest with you. It seems to be polarizing, ”he said.

If elected, Dowdall will continue his nearly two-decade tenure in public service. He was previously the mayor of the Township of Essa and the Deputy Reeve of the County of Simcoe.

He served three terms on the board of directors of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.

“We are fortunate to live in a democratic society and people can come out, vote and have a say. You know what they usually say is voters never get it wrong, ”Dowdall said.

Dowdall lives near New Lowell and is married with two daughters.

More than 32,000 of the approximately 129,000 people who live in Simcoe-Gray voted early before the election. Dowdall said the figure is one of the highest in Canada on a per capita basis, and up from the 21,500 who voted in early 2019. Nationally, Elections Canada estimates that more than 5.8 million Canadians voted early – an 18.5% increase from 2019 – not including mail-in ballots.

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In the midst of an ongoing pandemic, some people may have tried to avoid a crowd. Although Dowdall has said he expects the number of early voters to reflect in part how frustrated people were this time around and how eager they were to change.

“The most common comment was ‘why?’ like in why do we have an election right now? They’re not happy they called him, ”Dowdall said. “We are supposed to stay at home and try to avoid large gatherings. This is what we have been told for a long time. And a lot of people are just frustrated in general. There is a lot of frustration at the door.

Conservative, Liberal and NDP candidates in Simcoe-Gray said the top issues most voters wanted to discuss in the riding during the campaign were affordable housing, the cost of living and climate change. Pandemic recovery and vaccination passports were also key talking points.

Gillies, the local NDP candidate, said about one in 15 people he spoke to during the short campaign season mentioned vaccine passports. And although vaccine policies are currently enforced through provincial legislation, some voters saw it as a key issue in the federal election campaign.

Gillies said it was an experience of “humility” in Simcoe-Gray as an NDP candidate.

“A lot of people like to talk about Bob Rae. I was three when Bob Rae was prime minister. It can be frustrating in that regard. You have this amazing platform that you want to share with people, but you don’t. just not the resources to get the message out to 120,000 people over a 30 day period, “said Gillies.” It’s definitely an experience that makes him humble. It was amazing to connect with people.

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Gillies said an 89-year-old man told her he voted for the NDP for the first time in this election, while others told him the country’s political system itself was the problem .

“Sometimes I didn’t feel like I was defending the NDP, but I was defending the government. There is a lot of anti-government dialogue going on. It’s not pleasant and doesn’t seem to really get us anywhere, ”said Gillies.

Munro said she did not experience the same level of vitriolic party leader Justin Trudeau suffered from protesters during the election campaign. One of the local liberal campaign posters was defaced, but most of the people she spoke with were respectful, she said.

Campaigning as a Liberal in a riding that has voted blue since 2004, Munro said gradual change was happening in Collingwood, The Blue Mountains and Wasaga Beach. She said that in 2019 the Liberal Party came out on top in most polls in the most densely populated areas.

“We are liberals here, but we split the vote on the left. The Conservatives just have to sit on the right and do nothing, basically, ”Munro said.

She expected some “curveballs” to be thrown in this election, with the Green Party falling far behind in the national race and the People’s Party of Canada emerging.

“Voters are disillusioned. It is also part of democracy. Our job is to hear them, hear their concerns and, if necessary, try to do something. It’s a hard job, ”Munro said.

Munro spent much of the campaign pitching the Liberals’ plan to revive the post-pandemic Canadian economy through a “green lens.” Faced with people asking why an election had to be called in the first place, Munro said the Liberals wanted a clear mandate from the Canadian public.

“Okay, who do the voters want to take them with when the pandemic is over and the recovery begins?” Let’s have a mandate. Who do they want? That’s why an election was called, ”she said.

Gillies, who expected Dowdall to be re-elected early Monday morning, said he wanted people to act as if “democracy doesn’t end at the voting booth.”

He wants voters who feel unrepresented in Simcoe-Gray to engage with their MP and continue to have their voices heard after election day.

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