New Liberal MPP Monique Smith said she didn’t just win the Nipissing riding in Thursday’s provincial election.
Rather, Smith said, she’s brought back a sort of
treasured heirloom to the family: her father’s seat.
Dick Smith had been Nipissing’s MPP for 12 years.
The seat remained Liberal for another four years after that, but became almost the personal property of former Premier Mike Harris, who held onto it for 22 years.
Tory Al McDonald won the riding in the 2002 Nipissing byelection, but the results were so close a judicial recount had to be held to settle the matter.
No recount will be needed this time, though, unless there’s something suspect about the 2,800 votes Smith won by.
In doing so, she becomes Nipissing’s first ever female MPP.
“It’s about time,” she said.
During her victory speech, Smith told hundreds of supporters about the political heritage she grew up with, alluding to the 1987 provincial election, when her mother Marthe ran against Harris.
“When I was a kid I always said I’d run, and when my mom ran I said I'd never run, because it is so much harder watching someone you love run, than running yourself,” she said.
"My mom loved it though, had a blast, but I felt like I'd been through the war. Now I've had a blast and she feels like she's been through a war."
As well when Smith was about 11, she told baytoday.ca Wednesday, she wanted to see the late Newfoundland premier Joey Smallwood speak when he had visited North Bay.
“My parents said I couldn’t because I was far too young,” Smith said.
“I told Smallwood that years later when I met him in Newfoundland and he said, ‘if you were old enough to know who I was, you were old enough to be there.’”
She didn't talk about her father, and for a good reason, Smith said.
“I knew I’d cry. My father would be so proud. I know that he’d be thrilled that this is happening. I know he’s looking down and he’s smiling.”
Smith said getting the Liberal vote out had been a key factor.
That didn’t happen in 2002 when McDonald squeaked by George Maroosis by 9 votes, 19 after recount, earning him the nickname ‘Avalanche Al.’
Was the final result this time around sweeter for Smith because she’d won a Harris-held riding?
“It’s sweeter because I won my father’s riding,” Smith said.
Speculation remains Smith will be named to Premier-elect Dalton McGuinty’s cabinet.
“No conversations have been held about that, all I’ve been focused on is becoming the MPP and I’ve accomplished that and I’m very happy,” Smith said.
Maroosis was even more specific.
“I feel delighted that we finally got these guys,” he said.
“That was our goal, to get rid of them in the province and in the riding.”
McDonald accepted his defeat philisophicaly.
"We were truthful and honest in our campaign, and we had integrity,” he told a roomful of faithful Tories.
“I can tell you, the experience will last me a lifetime.”
Rev. Terry O'Connor came in third, winning almost 2,600 votes.
"I think we ran a great campaign and brought a lot of important issues up before the public," he said.
O'Connor later arrived at the Pinewood to congratulate Smith.
Green Party candidate Jaimie Board chose not to follow the election results, chosing instead to have a qiuet dinner with friends and then attend a production of Fame at the Capitol Centre.
Final results, 180 out of 180 polls reporting
Jaimie Board, Green Party, 614
Al McDonald, Progressive Conservative Party, 14,936
Terry O'Connor, New Democratic Party, 2595
Monique Smith, Liberal Party, 17,748