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'Voter disengagement' and modest voter turnout mark PC win in Lambton-Kent-Middlesex byelection


Steven Pinsonneault said one of his first orders of business will be to resign his council seat in Chatham-Kent.

The municipal politician is about to move to Queens Park after winning the Lambton Kent Middlesex byelection by a huge margin Thursday night.

It means the mostly rural riding will remain Tory blue.

“It’s pretty amazing,” said Pinsonneault as he tore down his Dresden campaign office Friday. “It’s still a little bit surreal. You know that was a pretty convincing win,” he commented.

Pinsonneault succeeds former Tory MPP and Cabinet Minister Monte McNaughton, who stepped down last year.

According to unofficial results from Elections Ontario, Pinsonneault garnered 15,649 votes, or about 57 per cent of the votes cast.

He sais it wasn’t a provincial issue that gave him the win, but rather a federal one.

“I think it’s the carbon tax, what pushed it over the top,” surmised Pinsonneault. “The cost of living is really affecting rural Ontario. This riding here, you know, the people are just finding it hard to make ends meet, and this last 23 per cent tax increase really pushed it over the top.”

His comments echo those of his new leader, Tory Premier Doug Ford, who has levelled no shortage of criticism at the federal Liberals over the politically controversial carbon tax.

Finishing second was Liberal Cathy Burghardt-Jesson, also a sitting municipal politician.

Liberal candidate Cathy Burghardt-Jesson is pictured at her Strathroy campaign office on May 3, 2024. (Bryan Bicknell/CTV News London)

Burghardt-Jesson stepped aside temporarily from her roles as mayor of Lucan-Biddulph and deputy warden of Middlesex County to run in the byelection.

Burghardt-Jesson garnered 6,208 votes, or 22.5 per cent. She said she believes she helped move the needle for the Ontario Liberal Party, which lost official party status in 2018.

“You know if you look at how the Ontario Liberals did in the 2022 election, we have made strides, we did increase our support base. And that is something to be celebrated. People are looking for a change, and we were an answer for some of them,” said Burghardt-Jesson.

The long-time municipal politician did not rule out running again for the Liberals in the next general election in 2026.

The New Democrats ran a distant third with Kathryn Shailer garnering 2,973 votes or about 11 per cent.

“The campaign, I have to characterize it as one of voter disengagement,” said Shailer. The retired educator said she encountered a great deal of complacency at the door and on the street.

“They’re either very passionate about something, or much more often, simply not interested,” she explained.

Rounding out the remaining votes were candidates representing several smaller parties:

Steve Pinsonneault, (PCP) — 15,649 (56.85%)

Cathy Burghardt-Jesson (LIB) — 6,208 (22.55%)

Katheryn Shailer (NDP) — 2,973 (10.80%)

Keith Benn (NBO) — 1,513 (5.50%)

Andraena Tilgner (GPO) — 429 (1.56%)

Stephen R. Campbell (Nap) — 360 (1.31%)

Cynthia Workman (ONP) — 310 (1.13%)

Hilda Walton (FRP) — 87 (0.32%)

Source: Elections Ontario Top Stories

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