Progressive Conservative Lorne Coe has won the provincial byelection in Whity-Oshawa.
The riding — which stretches from Lake Ontario through Whitby to Brooklin and northwest Oshawa — became vacant when Christine Elliott quit politics in August.
That was four months after she experienced a bitter defeat at the hands of Patrick Brown in the PC leadership race, marking the second time the party rejected her as leader. Elliott placed third to Tim Hudak in 2009.
The Liberals and New Democrats hoped to capitalize on any ill feelings among traditional Conservatives about Elliott’s fate.
A lawyer by training, Elliott has since been hired by the Kathleen Wynne government as its first patient ombudsman, a move that effectively neutralized her in the campaign, although she did nominate Coe.
Elliott held the riding for nine years, winning it in a byelection after her husband, Jim Flaherty, who had been MPP since 1995, moved on to federal politics and became finance minister under former prime minister Stephen Harper. Flaherty died of a heart attack in 2014.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, whose party took the redrawn riding from the Conservatives in last October’s federal election, appeared with Liberal candidate Elizabeth Roy and Wynne at a dinnertime rally Tuesday at a local sports bar.
Rival campaigns dismissed the appearance as a gimmick, saying it was intended to distract voters from real issues in the race.
The prime minister wasn’t the only sign of heightened Liberal interest in the race, as Wynne appeared in ads on Toronto radio stations broadcasting throughout the GTA, not just to local residents in the riding.
Niki Lundquist’s NDP campaign also keyed on the Hydro One sale and on health care and education cuts.
Stacey Leadbetter had raised concerns that the province should be supplying more potassium iodine pills to area residents in the event of a radiation leak at the nearby Darlington or Pickering nuclear power plants.
Just over 6,000 residents cast ballots in advance polls.
The contest included two fringe candidates citizens disgruntled with politicians for the “none of the above” vote.