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It was fear over fear as Ontario voters rejected the possibility of a hard-right Tim Hudak Conservative government and chose instead to re-elect Kathleen Wynne's Liberal Party, which produces more scandals than a FIFA referee and is currently under investigation by the Ontario Provincial Police.
Wynne won a majority Liberal government with 59 seats, while Hudak's Progressive Conservatives (PC) were reduced to 27 seats and the New Democratic Party (NDP) stayed even at a total of 21.
In her victory speech, a beaming Wynne said, "You have put your trust in us to move this province forward, and do that with integrity and we will not take you for granted."
Wynne's speech was briefly interrupted with by a young voice calling out "Hi grandma." A smiling Wynne asked if was her grandson Noah and then said, "we're doing this for Noah" prompting the jubilant Liberal crowd to chant his name.
"I am so proud to be standing in front of you as the first woman to have ever been elected as Premier of Ontario," said Wynne who also thanked her partner Jane Rounthwaite and briefly brought her onstage before she slipped back into the crowd.
Tim Hudak used his speech to announce his resignation as the leader of the PC party saying he was proud of what his team accomplished and was optimistic about the future and would only lead until a new PC leader is elected.
Hudak was widely panned for a basic arithmetic error in the Tories "Million Jobs Plan" platform and for pledging to eliminate 100,000 public sector jobs.
This lead to a "Stop Hudak" campaign being organized by labour unions in Ontario and picked up by the Liberals as their central message.
Posting on Twitter, the outspoken president of the Ontario Federation of Labour Sid Ryan, wrote, "The Stop Hudak campaign forces Hudak to resign. He took on labour and lost. We are coming after Harper next. Enough of this Tea Party b.s."
Speaking on TVO's The Agenda former PC cabinet minister and Speaker of the Assembly Chris Stockwell commented, "We don't just shoot ourselves in the foot, we shoot ourselves in the head."
Andrea Horwath started her concession speech awkwardly by saying "today thousands of you voted for change that makes sense."
The see-sawing of NDP seats saw the dippers trade three seats in Toronto for seats in Sudbury, Oshawa and Windsor-West.
The Beaches-East York riding, thought to be a safe riding held by NDP veteran Michael Prue since 2001, was picked up by the Liberals for the first time as Arthur Potts won by 431 votes in a photo-finish.
"Perhaps people weren't hoping for this particular result tonight but New Democrats are fighters," said Horwath. "We're going to keep fighting for the things that matter most for the people of Ontario."
Horwath did not announce any intention to step down as NDP leader.
Simon Black, 35, a former NDP candidate at the federal level and vice president of the NDP's Mississauga-Streetsville Riding Association, has been an NDP member since he was 15.
"The NDP's shift to the right bore absolutely no fruit. It's not only undemocratic that the platform didn't resemble party policy but it's ineffective; the popular vote only went up 1.3 per cent," said Black. "It's a political failure and it disregards the desires of the grassroots members of the party."
On what's next for the NDP Black said, "there will be a lot of soul searching on the direction of the party and that includes the leadership."
Green Party leader Mike Schreiner placed a close third in Guelph with 19 per cent of the vote, but was nowhere near becoming the Green's first MPP as Liberal Liz Sandals was re-elected with 41 per cent of the vote. Overall the Greens took 4.8 per cent of the vote, up from 2.9 per cent in 2011.
The fringe parties saw the new None Of The Above Party of Ontario, running in eight ridings take 4,246 votes. The Communist Party of Ontario, running in 11 ridings, the most they've contested since 1981, got 2,290 votes. Meanwhile the Socialist Party of Ontario collected 361 votes in two ridings.
Overal voter turnout is said to top 51 per cent, up three per cent from 2011, bucking the trend from the advance polls which saw a drop of six per cent compared to the last general election. The riding with the lowest voter turnout was Mississauga-Brampton South with 42.4 per cent and the riding with the highest turnout was Ottawa-Orléans at 60.5 per cent.
The number of declined ballots has not been released.
Mick Sweetman is the Managing Editor of The Dialog and a former rabble news intern. You can follow him on twitter at @MickSweetman.
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