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Results in Simcoe North not surprising, says disappointed Liberal candidate

'I'm pleased that it's still a Liberal government and they can continue to do the work that they were doing,' says Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux

Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux was not able to topple the Conservative dynasty in Simcoe North. But the Liberal candidate had a strong showing in Monday's election. 

As of 11:45 p.m., with 195 of 282 polls counted, Conservative Adam Chambers had garnered 14,043 votes, while Wesley-Esquimaux had earned 10,043 votes for a solid second-place showing.

"We knew that this has been a blue riding for the last 15 years, so it's not surprising," Wesley-Esquimaux told OrilliaMatters Monday night.

"We had hoped they would choose differently this time. We hoped they would choose a female and somebody Indigenous, we hoped they would be interested in reconciliation, but I guess they are going to go with what they had." 

While disappointed with the local result, Wesley-Esquimaux says she is pleased to see Prime Minister Justin Trudeau won re-election and appears likely to head up another minority government.

"He didn't get a majority government, but he did get a few more seats than he had," she said at 11:30 p.m. Monday night as the results came in. "I'm pleased that it's still a Liberal government and they can continue to do the work that they were doing." 

"It would have been great to go to Ottawa and do some of that work as well, but I'll continue to do the work that I've always done anyway," said Wesley-Esquimaux, who is the Chair on Truth and Reconciliation for Lakehead University. 

While Wesley-Esquimaux calls her campaign a success, she says she won't be running again. 

"It's a lot of work, it takes a lot of time and effort, so, I said to my team if we don't get this we are going to find somebody, we are going to mentor them into the position, and we are going to do some succession planning," she explained.

"We are going to find somebody who is going to be really good and we will make sure that they are ready to step into that position and do a great job with it." 

Wesley-Esquimaux told OrilliaMatters she believes her campaign was successful despite falling short of winning Simcoe North. 

“It’s been a good run and people have been very positive despite the fact that there have been a lot of negative ads on in the late evening,” she said.

“For a riding that is quite blue, it’s been nice to have people respond to my campaign positively. I’ve heard a lot of people say they are tired of having a Conservative government here and we’d like to see something different,” she said.

Wesley-Esquimaux was a previous Liberal candidate in York Simcoe where she has a home on Georgina Island; she ran back in 2011 and 2019. Wesley-Esquimaux believes her 2021 campaign is her best yet.

“In York Simcoe, which is also a very blue riding, I found it a lot more nasty. Here, people are a lot kinder which has made it a lot better,” she said.

This year Wesley-Esquimaux learned that in order to run a successful campaign you must be organized, you must be out in the public, and you must be able to talk to people.

“Making the phone calls, going out and doing the walks, organizing volunteers, asking people to help volunteer, and calling in favours from friends. You have to do whatever it takes to get people to vote, and it’s been worth it,” she said.

The biggest challenge for Wesley-Esquimaux’s campaign was the pandemic.

“It’s not like there was traditional door-knocking opportunities where you can go house to house and bang on the door and expect people to be happy that you are there. As we’ve been going out to different neighbourhoods and dropping materials off if someone is already outside then we were happy to talk to them,” she said.

When Wesley-Esquimaux did talk to some residents, the common themes of concerns she listed include the pandemic and preservation of vaccination choice.

“I told people 'Yes, you have a choice. You also have the choice to not get on an airplane or go to school if you don’t get the vaccine.' It’s seemed like it wasn’t so much about vaccine resistance as it was about freedom,” she said.

Wesley-Esquimaux also heard many concerns about what the Liberal government was going to do for seniors and old-age pensions. She also heard about the affordable housing crisis.

“I think we really need to do something about those issues, and in our platform, there is a lot of attention on housing and building affordable housing units which I think people were interested in,” she said.

The brevity of her campaign was surprisingly not a factor, noted Wesley-Esquimaux, who said she preferred it.

“It didn’t give us a lot of time to confirm everything, but it meant that we had to move quickly and not waste any time getting things organized,” she said.

Wesley-Esquimaux spent this afternoon and this evening at her Front Street headquarters where she was organizing rides for local seniors who needed a lift to go vote. Tonight, she will be watching the election results from her living room in Orillia.

Her campaign manager, Ryan Barber, says he is feeling a little tired on election night, but generally happy.

“Cynthia has been an amazing candidate to work with,” he said.

During the campaign, she experienced an unprecedented amount of vandalism and hate, lamented Barber.

“It was actually heartening because it led to people calling us to say please bring us another sign. We even had people coming to help us put our signs back up,” Barber said.

“People responded to our campaign positively which is really what we are focused on. We really wanted to push a positive message.”

Barber believes Wesley-Esquimaux was targeted for hate during her campaign because of the Liberals' stance on vaccines.


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Tyler Evans

About the Author: Tyler Evans

Tyler Evans got his start in the news business when he was just 15-years-old and now serves as a video producer and reporter with OrilliaMatters
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