While the country voted in a Liberal minority in last night's federal election, the county went decidedly blue.
Conservatives were elected in all five Simcoe County ridings, including incumbents John Brassard in Barrie-Innisfil and Bruce Stanton in Simcoe North, as well as federal newcomers Doug Shipley in Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte (BSOM) and Terry Dowdall in Simcoe-Grey. Scot Davidson, who won a byelection in February following the retirement of Peter Van Loan, also retained his York-Simcoe seat.
When the dust settled and with all polls reporting, the local winners walked away with comfortable margins of victory.
Brassard, who won by close to 8,000 votes over Liberal candidate Lisa-Marie Wilson, says affordability and the environment will be the main topics when parliament resumes.
"We're finding people are having a tough time getting ahead and they're just getting by," he said last night during his victory party at the BMC. "The cost of everything is going up. Taxes are going up. We've got a government that's talked about debts and deficits, and that's going to have a significant impact on people.
"But locally, my focus is on making sure that we have the Lake Simcoe Clean-Up Fund re-established," added Brassard. "They said they were going to do it after we said we were going to do it and we're going to hold them to account on it."
During a campaign stop in Barrie on Oct. 9, Liberal minister Chrystia Freeland announced a four-year, $40-million plan to clean up and restore Lake Simcoe if a Liberal government was elected. The pledge came just two weeks after local Conservative candidates unveiled a similar $30-million, four-year plan.
Meanwhile last night, across the city in the north end, Shipley won the BSOM riding — which was destined to have a new representative in the House of Commons after fellow Tory Alex Nuttall chose not to seek re-election — by more than 4,200 votes. Shipley has said he will resign his Ward 3 city council as soon as possible.
In Simcoe-Grey, Dowdall, a former Essa Township mayor, will also be a rookie MP in Ottawa in the coming weeks. He secured a 9,000-vote win over the Liberals' Lorne Kenney.
"Conservatives cut taxes and we cut costs for people," Dowdall said Monday night in his victory speech. "At the end of the day, people need to have money in their pockets. It's amazing how many people don't. A lot of people believe in the same issues we believe in, like affordability."
In Simcoe North, Stanton was elected to a fifth term with almost 8,000 more votes than the second-place finisher, Liberal candidate Gerry Hawes.
Down in York-Simcoe, Davidson was re-elected handily with more than 10,000 votes over his Liberal competitor, Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux.
"I come from a small-business background and we work with everyone. That's my job at the end of the day," Davidson said. "It doesn't matter what colour you are at the end of the day — NDP, Green, Liberal, whatever — you expect a job to get done and that's what the people of York-Simcoe expect and that's what it's all about."
Across Canada, the Liberals won 157 seats, followed by the Conservatives with 121. The Bloc Quebecois picked up 32 seats, with the NDP grabbing 24; the Green Party claimed three and Jody Wilson-Raybould was elected as an independent in her Vancouver-area riding.
Brassard said he believes the national results send a "strong message" to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
"Enough with the scandals, enough with the ethics breaches; let's get our fiscal house in order," said Brassard, who also noted the rise in the Bloc Quebecois. "It'll remain to be seen over the course of the next couple of days whether that message resonates with Justin Trudeau."
— With files from Erika Engel and Natasha Philpott