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PC majority leaves Simcoe North's NDP candidate 'very confused'

'People felt alienated by the last four years,' says Elizabeth Van Houtte, who vows to 'hold Jill (Dunlop) accountable' in the coming days and months
Elizabeth watches results 2022 election
Simcoe North NDP candidate Elizabeth Van Houtte watches results come in alongside supporters at Fionn McCool's in downtown Orillia Thursday night.

NDP candidate Elizabeth Van Houtte is disappointed with the results of the provincial election that saw Doug Ford's Progressive Conservatives sweep to a second — larger — majority government Thursday night.

“It was at the door where we heard that people are upset and didn’t like how the current government is running,” she said. “People felt alienated by the last four years, including the pandemic.”

Despite the amount of displeasure with Ford's government Van Houtte heard at the door, Jill Dunlop was re-elected MPP on Thursday night by a landslide.

“I’m very confused,” she said. “When we were doing our data analysis prior to the polling votes, we couldn’t even compare it to 2018 and thought we were going to come in very strong.”

She is worried about the next four years in Simcoe North.

“We will still be on waiting lists for surgeries,” she told OrilliaMatters after the results were in. “We will not see people (get out of) poverty, we will not see affordable housing, we will see that the climate doesn’t matter, and that’s worrisome.”

The Orillia resident says she had more supporters and volunteers during this campaign than she did during her past two runs in Simcoe North, and she is proud of that. The 58-year-old doesn’t know if she will run in the next provincial election.

“What I want to focus on is the momentum of this riding,” she said. “We are not going to give up. We will hold Jill accountable and will continue to fight the good fight on health care, education, and dental.”

Van Houtte says it surprised her in some ways that Andrea Horwath resigned as NDP leader Thursday night.

“This was really crucial for her, and I know that she and the party worked so hard on this campaign,” she said. “I respect her. She’s my mentor. I know her personally and I will support her 100 per cent.”

Van Houtte doesn’t know what Horwath’s resignation means for the party and she didn't want to begin speculating.

The mother of two, who is a social worker, said running a campaign is difficult and she couldn’t do it alone.

“My husband is retired and has picked up the slack,” she said. “My daughters are very supportive of my passion to run in politics, and they understand what I stand for.”

She says the people of Simcoe North have voted for an MPP who needs to be responsive, accountable, visible, and there to represent the entire riding, which isn’t what she feels has been the case during Dunlop’s tenure.

Dunlop topped the polls with 23,041 ballots cast in her favour, which translates into 49.75% of the votes.

Van Houtte finished a distant second behind Dunlop, pulling in 8,208 votes — or 17.72% of the ballots cast. Rookie Liberal candidate Aaron Cayden Hiltz was right behind her with 8,070 (17.43%) votes.

The Green party's Krystal Brooks was fourth (4,071), followed by the Blue Party's Mark Douris (1,484), New Ontario Party Aaron MacDonald (1,118) and Libertarian William Joslin (318). 

According to Elections Ontario, 45.96% of the 100,762 eligible voters in Simcoe North cast their ballots. Provincially, voter turnout was just over 40%.