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Change demanded, change received: Dunlop

Jill Dunlop wins Simcoe North by 47 per cent, becomes riding's first female MPP

The Dunlop dynasty has returned to Simcoe North.

Jill Dunlop was elected MPP Thursday night, garnering 25,530 of the 54,378 votes cast in the riding.

Dunlop was greeted by enthusiastic supporters when she arrived at Bonaire Golf and Country Club in her home town of Coldwater, after it had been confirmed her Progressive Conservative party would be forming a majority government.

“The people of Simcoe North and the people of Ontario have demanded change, and we’re going to see change,” she said. “Today, we have said Ontario is open for business.”

Dunlop is the first woman elected to the provincial legislature in Simcoe North.

“The importance of that feat is not lost on me. I want my daughters to see more women in politics,” she said.

Simcoe North has been a Tory stronghold for decades, but the New Democrats made significant gains in this election, with Elizabeth Van Houtte earning 15,275 votes. Despite this being a comfortable riding for conservatives, Dunlop said she didn’t become complacent during the campaign.

“I worked like I was 10 points behind all the time,” she said. “You don’t take anything for granted.”

Asked about the many distractions that dogged the PCs in Simcoe North and at the provincial level, Dunlop said she remained focused on the riding, adding, “I’m fully behind my leader (premier-designate Doug Ford) moving forward.”

As elated as anyone in the room Thursday night was her father, Garfield Dunlop, who was Simcoe North MPP from 1999 to 2015.

“If I told you I was proud, it would be an understatement,” he said. “Jill will be a really strong riding representative. She won’t be a Queen’s Park type of person. She’ll be there for the people.”

His late mother and grandmother would be proud, an emotional Garfield Dunlop said, noting his daughter, during the campaign, “deliberately stayed away from the fact she would be the first female MPP.”

During her victory speech, Dunlop praised her Simcoe North competitors for running a campaign of “fairness, consideration and respect for one another.”

Van Houtte, meanwhile, told OrilliaMatters she was "in dismay" after the results came in.

"I can't believe people voted for someone who doesn't have a platform,” she said of Ford. “All we know is $6.1 billion in cuts is what we can anticipate. I'm concerned and worried for the people of Ontario."

She shed tears as she was hugged and greeted by friends, family and supporters at Lake Country Grill in Orillia.

"My tears are not tears because we didn't win," Van Houtte told the crowd. "They are because I'm really, really concerned about our next government.

"We fought for people to have a really good life and they've just elected a party that had no platform and wasn't costed. If you're not scared right now, you should be."

Liberal Gerry Marshall, who placed third with 9,640 votes, wasn’t surprised with the outcome.

While he was disappointed with the local results, he knew change was coming in terms of provincial leadership.

“Voters wanted to take a pound of flesh from the Liberals and Kathleen Wynne and we got caught up in that,” Marshall said during a campaign wrap party at the Midland Cultural Centre.

That said, Marshall congratulated Dunlop on her victory and noted he’s pleased with the campaign he and his team of volunteers put forward.

“I started knocking on doors in February and knocked on between 100 and 150 doors a day since then,” he said. “I thought we ran a strong campaign and I’m really proud of our team.”

— With files from Mehreen Shahid and Andrew Philips


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Nathan Taylor

About the Author: Nathan Taylor

Nathan Taylor is the desk editor for Village Media's central Ontario news desk in Simcoe County and Newmarket.
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