02/12/2016 09:27 EST | Updated 02/12/2016 09:59 EST

Patrick Brown Throws Playful Shot At Trudeau's 'Sunny Ways' After Byelection Win

The PM campaigned in the riding just this week.

The leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives couldn't resist taking a playful jab at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau after a Tory candidate rolled to a byelection win in Whitby-Oshawa Thursday.

And Patrick Brown's words reminded a wider audience that Trudeau has just shared in arguably his first real loss since coming to power in October.

"It's nice to see sunny ways have come with blue skies here in Whitby-Oshawa," Brown said at an election night party for Lorne Coe.

Coe, a regional councillor, took 52 per cent of the vote, easily defeating Ontario Liberal Elizabeth Roy and NDP candidate Niki Lundquist. Voter turnout, however, was an abysmal 29 per cent.

He will now replace Christine Elliott, a longtime MPP and widow of former federal finance minister Jim Flaherty. Elliott gave up the seat last summer after losing a race for the party leadership.

Flaherty held the riding provincially from 1995 to 2006, when he made the jump to Ottawa.

Some might argue that the PC party keeping a reliably PC riding is no big deal. And byelections, to be sure, always get way more attention than they should — win or lose, the Ontario Liberals' majority government was never in jeopardy.

But the stakes were raised this week by both Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Trudeau.

In a move dubbed unusual and, in some circles inappropriate, Trudeau participated in a campaign rally with Wynne and Roy on Tuesday. Though Trudeau campaigned with Wynne during the provincial election in 2014, and she campaigned with him in the federal election last year, it's highly uncommon for a prime minister to insert himself into a local race.

Trudeau's stump speech echoed what he said on the federal campaign trail about "sunny ways" and positivity trumping division.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attends a campaign rally with Elizabeth Roy, on Feb. 9, 2016. (Photo: Fred Thornhill/CP)

"You'd think that people would have learned from that," Trudeau said. "You'd think the people who were pushing fear and division might have said after Kathleen's win, after our win in October that maybe we shouldn't engage in personal attacks. Maybe we shouldn't be scaring people. Maybe we shouldn't be looking for fault lines to exploit and ways to divide each other."

But Ontario Liberals told The Canadian Press that the byelection wasn't especially nasty or marred by personal attacks.

Trudeau has helped other Liberal leaders

Before becoming prime minister, Trudeau went out of his way to help Liberal leaders at the provincial level. In addition to Wynne, he campaigned with Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil, New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant, and Prince Edward Island Premier Wade MacLauchlan during provincial elections.

Federal New Democrats even called out Trudeau last April for lending his support to P.E.I. Liberals, who would not commit to fully funded and unrestricted access to abortion on the island.

The close relationship between Trudeau and Wynne has provided plenty of fodder for Tory MPs from Ontario who attempt to link federal Liberals to the scandals or controversies of their provincial cousins.

Last year, Tory MP Cheryl Gallant rose in the House of Commons to demand Trudeau "order" Wynne withdraw the province's changes to the sexual education curriculum — even though education is clearly a matter of provincial jurisdiction.

In question period last week, rookie Tory MP Alex Nuttall asked the federal Liberals to promise they would not give former Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty a patronage appointment. Several one-time McGuinty government staffers now work for Trudeau, including his chief of staff Katie Telford and principal secretary Gerald Butts.

"McGuinty has cost Ontario taxpayers billions of dollars in higher taxes, big spending, and gas plant scandals," he said at the time.

With files from The Canadian Press


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