There are no regrets from Timmins-James Bay Liberal candidate Leonard Rickard on his decision to run in the provincial election.
“It’s probably one of the most humbling and inspiring things I’ve ever done,” the Moose Cree First Nation member said. “I’ve met so many interesting people, learned so much about our riding and communities, and really made me realize how fortunate I am for being able to go out and meet people, who I didn’t know five to six weeks ago, who came out to support me.”
Rickard was easily beat out by incumbent NDP Gilles Bisson, who retained his seat at Queen’s Park by securing 49.7 per cent of the votes, while PC Al Spacek received 36.4 per cent. Rickard received 12.4 per cent, with a total of 2,856 votes.
“Obviously, I was disappointed,” Rickard said of the results. “I didn’t go into this election not to win, but just being inspired by people’s support was a great thing for me, and a real learning experience.”
Rickard said he felt a sense of pride in representing First Nations people in the election.
“Going to the First Nation communities, everyone was welcoming and super supportive,” he said. “A few people came up to me and said they were glad that a First Nations person was running, and I was glad to be that person.”
The election campaign proved to be a busy time for Rickard, not only with his traveling and public appearances, but in his personal life as well. He was married two weeks prior to the election and recently learned he and his wife are expecting a child.
“I haven’t had a chance to enjoy being married so far and absorb the fact that we have a baby coming next spring, so there’s a lot going for me,” he said.
With the election over, Rickard returns to work as CEO of CreeWest, a small, community-owned airline company in the North.
While Rickard was unable to secure a seat for his party, Dalton McGuinty and the Liberals will be returning to Queen’s Park with a minority government, falling one seat short of winning a third consecutive majority.
In total, the Liberals ended up with 53 seats, losing 19 seats from the 72 it had in the 2007 elections. They captured 37.6 per cent of the popular vote, with the Progressive Conservatives close behind at 35.4 per cent and the NDP at 22.7 per cent.
NAN Grand Chief Stan Beardy congratulated Premier Dalton McGuinty in securing his third consecutive term.
“NAN is mandated to work with all political parties and all levels and therefore we will continue to push for meaningful dialogue with the elected officials of Ontario,” he said in a press release.
Regional Chief Angus Toulouse also congratulated the Liberals in a press release, adding that First Nations education should be a priority for the government.
“Empowering First Nations young people with culturally appropriate and academically solid education unlocks an economic potential for all of Ontario by securing a stable and productive work force,” he said. “We appreciate the premier’s fervour to address the education gap that exists between First Nations and their mainstream counterparts but above all - we support First Nations in their inherent right to construct education systems that transmit culture, language and values.”
In other northern Ontario ridings, the people in the Thunder Bay region will be seeing familiar faces.
In Thunder Bay-Atikokan, Liberal Bill Mauro barely retained his seat with 10,326 votes (39 per cent), beating out NDP Mary Kozorys (9,874 votes, or 37.3 per cent) and PC Fred Gilbert (22 per cent).
In Thunder Bay-Superior North, incumbent Liberal Michael Gravelle retained his seat (45 per cent), beating out NDP Steve Mantis (34.9 per cent) and PC Anthony Leblanc (17.5 per cent).
Kenora-Rainy River and Timiskaming-Cochrane elected NDP representatives.
NDP Sarah Campell (49.2 per cent) beat out PC Rod McKay (38.1 per cent) and Liberal Anthony Leek (9.9 per cent) in Kenora-Rainy River.
In Timiskaming-Cochrane NDP John Vanthof had 50.1 per cent of the votes, easily beating out Liberal Denis Bonin (25.9 per cent) and PC Randy Aulbrook (21.2 per cent).
Ontario Native Women’s Association executive director Cora McGuire-Cyrette enjoyed participating along with National Chief RoseAnne Archibald and W
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