POLITICS

Ontario Municipal Election Results Cheered By Liberals

10/28/2014 06:04 EDT | Updated 12/28/2014 05:59 EST
OTTAWA - Ontario's municipal elections are being seen as a win of sorts for Liberals in key areas, although not every victor fits neatly into a political category.

In races in Ottawa, Brampton, Markham, Mississauga and Vaughan mayoral candidates with backgrounds in federal or provincial Liberal positions beat out the competition.

In other cities such as Sault Ste Marie and Kitchener, the new mayors are also regarded as Liberals.

Jim Watson, a former Liberal provincial cabinet minister, won re-election handily in Ottawa.

In the greater Toronto area, a key landscape in federal elections, former Liberal MPs Bonnie Crombie and Maurizio Bevilacqua won in Mississauga and Vaughan respectively and former Liberal MPP Linda Jeffrey won in Brampton.

"I think people are looking for balance, they're looking for progressive approaches," said Liberal MP David McGuinty, pointing to former colleagues Denis Coderre, now mayor of Montreal and Mike Savage, mayor of Halifax.

"I think they know that cities need investments ... and they are, I suspect, not happy with what they're hearing with other voices, but the voice of austerity and the voice of not investing in our infrastructure is not a voice that's breaking through."

Some Conservatives have concerns that mayors with Liberal ties will actively work to undermine the federal party.

MP Rick Dykstra said he's happy with the result in his city of St. Catharines, where businessman Walter Sendzik won, but acknowledges it's not easy when a city's leadership clashes with a federal or provincial government.

"You tend to work much better when you're on the same page and working towards the same objectives and I'm pretty confident that's going to happen in the city of St. Catharines," Dykstra said Tuesday.

Still, municipal politics doesn't always overlap perfectly with the allegiances and power dynamics of provincial and federal politics.

In Toronto, the victor John Tory, former Ontario PC leader, has fans in both Conservative and Liberal camps. Many Ontario cabinet ministers backed his run. Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said "Hallelujah" upon hearing Tory had won, the Toronto Star reported.

Meanwhile, some Conservatives vigorously supported Mississauga candidate Steve Mahoney, while others backed Crombie — both former Liberal MPs.

Jeffrey was joined onstage in Brampton by former Tory premier Bill Davis.

Chad Rogers, a Toronto-based Conservative strategist, said Wynne is likely pleased with the overall result, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's a negative for the federal Tories — particularly as the cities compete for infrastructure cash.

"A whole lot of people are going to try to be friendly with the finance minister," Rogers said.

"It's going to be a great period of peace followed by a great period of war."

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