Chants of Tony, Tony, Tony, way to go, Tony, greeted Newmarket-Aurora Liberal candidate Tony Van Bynen as he made his entrance into Cachet Supper Club through throngs of supporters at 12:16 a.m.
“Your hard work and kindness has provided me an opportunity that I will never take for granted,” a jubilant Van Bynen told the packed house. “Oh wow, what a great night.”
With a little more than half of the about 200 polls reporting in Newmarket-Aurora on election night, Liberal candidate Tony Van Bynen’s supporters erupted into loud cheers at Cachet just before midnight: “We got the check mark!”
The check mark indicates that media analysis has declared Van Bynen is likely to be elected as the local riding’s member of Parliament when all the votes are counted. Van Bynen’s widening lead over his nearest competitor, Conservative Lois Brown, continued to grow to more than 2,000 votes before Van Bynen and his team joined the celebration after midnight.
Newmarket’s former three-term mayor began his speech by thanking two people for their unwavering support, in addition to the upward of 150 who joined his campaign from humble beginnings in his garage. Van Bynen said he would not be where he is without his wife, Roxanne, of 50 years.
“She, too, is a political junkie,” he said with a laugh.
Van Bynen also noted that his campaign manager, Samir Kassam, is a kind and compassionate leader that pulled the team together when they needed it most.
“We delivered 100,000 pieces of literature and we won on the backs of your ideas and spirits,” Van Bynen said.
“The hard work begins tomorrow,” he said. “Play music, dance, and have fun.”
As one of the media-identified ridings to watch in the 43rd general federal election, Newmarket-Aurora offered competing candidates a level playing field on which to campaign. The riding was without an incumbent since one-term Liberal MP Kyle Peterson announced in March 2019 he would not seek re-election.
In saying a few words of farewell, outgoing MP Peterson told those assembled that without the volunteers on the ground doing what they did, on election day, and throughout the campaign, the election success wouldn’t be possible.
“Thank you for doing what you did. Any successful campaign takes a lot of volunteers,” he said.
Peterson said people have been asking him how he feels about leaving politics.
“It has been the absolute greatest honour in my life to represent you people in Ottawa,” he said, noting that election night was officially his last on duty as the riding’s representative.
Team Van Bynen volunteer, Basima Jarrah, expressed utter joy at Van Bynen being elected to serve Newmarket and Aurora residents.
“He has worked so hard,” she said.
Conservative challenger Brown stopped by to congratulate Van Bynen, but not before speaking with her supporters.
"Well, my friends, not the result we were looking for in Newmarket-Aurora tonight," Brown said when the riding was called in Van Bynen's favour.
She thanked her family, campaign manager, team and volunteers, who first began knocking on doors last February.
"Our endeavour in Newmarket-Aurora was second to none in this country, and we can all stand proud of the work we did to carry the Conservative banner in Newmarket-Aurora.... I'm grateful for the support and encouragement that you have given me not only through the campaign but when I did represent Newmarket-Aurora as your member of Parliament."
It was a long night, with Van Bynen taking an early lead that slowly built. Brown took a moment to speak to her supporters at about 11:30 p.m., with about 80 polls reporting, to say, "I don't want all of you to stay here with me all night unless you really want to be with me. If you have to go, I fully understand, but I wanted to say thank you before you slip away."
"What I do want to say to each one of you is how grateful I am. We have run an outstanding campaign in Newmarket-Aurora," she said to applause and whistles. "We have knocked on 25,000 doors and it takes a team to do that... you gave everything you had."
Check back here tomorrow for the Newmarket-Aurora official election results.
— With files from Debora Kelly