(Waridaad) - In the end it wasn't even close. Ottawa-Orléans Liberal incumbent Phil McNeely is heading back to Queen's Park after beating Progressive Conservative challenger Graham Fox by nearly 9,000 votes, almost doubling his margin of victory from the last election when he defeated former Cumberland Mayor and Tory Cabinet Minister Brian Coburn by 4,538 votes.
Speaking from his Fallingbrook home before heading out to his victory party, McNeely promised to get to work on fulfilling the Liberals campaign commitment to finally fix the split and bring a second Family Health Team to Orléans.
"There's a lot to do and I look forward to getting to work as soon as possible," said an elated, but relieved McNeely. "It was a very difficult campaign. We knew it was going to be a battle, but we had an excellent team and we got the job done."
McNeely increased his percentage of the overall vote from 50.4 per cent in 2003 to over 52.8 per cent this time around, while the Conservatives lost ground, moving from 41.3 per cent to just 34.4 per cent.
The NDP did slightly better going from 5.5 per cent to 6.4 per cent and the Green Party went from 2.8 per cent in 2003 to 4.6 per cent.
The result is a bitter disappointment for the Progressive Conservatives who targeted Ottawa-Orléans as a potential swing riding, pouring money and resources into the local race.
A steady stream of high profile Conservatives have visited the riding over the past two weeks to lend their support to Fox including Peter MacKay, Joe Clark and Bernard Lord, but to no avail. In the end the 33-year-old public policy analyst and party insider was soundly defeated by a man more than twice his age.
For the Progressive Conservative Party as a whole and John Tory in particular, the night was an utter disaster.
The Liberals increased their majority by three seats, going from 68 seats at disillusionment to 71 seats. The Conservatives managed to gain two seats as well goin from 24 to 26 and the NDP have remained unchanged at 10 seats.
Much of the blame for the colossal loss is being blamed on John Tory's pledge to extend public funding to faith-based schools and then taking a step back under pressure and promising to put the issue to a free vote should the Conservatives get elected. As it turns out, they didn't and it no longer matters.
As for Tory, he failed to unseat Education Minister Kathleen Wynne in Don Valley West and is likely to give serious consideration to stepping down as leader.
At the Orléans Legion, where the local Liberal faithful had gathered to see and hear the election results come in, no one was shedding any tears for Tory, or the Conservatives.
"It's too bad, but hey, he did it to himself," said Liberal supporter Dan Biocchi.