BY CLAIRE CUDAHY
Liberal Bob Nault came out on top in the federal election for the Kenora riding, narrowly beating out NDP Howard Hampton in what was expected to be a tight three-way race between the major parties.
The results came in hours after Justin Trudeau was declared the next Prime Minister with 184 seats to Stephen Harper’s 99.
Nault traded the lead several times with Hampton over the course of election night, and ultimately received 10,898 votes, roughly 35 per cent of the 30,700 votes cast in the Kenora riding. Hampton trailed behind with 10,379 votes, approximately 34 per cent of the vote.
“It was one of those campaigns where you knew it was going to be a close race,” said Nault in an interview with The Northern Sun News the morning after the race.
Conservative Greg Rickford, who was first elected in the Kenora riding in 2008, ending a 20-year Liberal hold on the district, fell behind early in the race and never caught up.
Rickford landed 8,760 votes (29 per cent), followed by Green Ember McKillop with 501 votes (2 per cent), and Independent Kelvin Boucher-Chicago with 162 votes (1 per cent).
“It was a long night…I want to thank and congratulate Mr. Hampton and Mr. Rickford for a good campaign and wish them all the best,” continued Nault.
This victory marks the beginning of Nault’s fifth term in office. Nault, 59, was Liberal MP in the riding for 16 years and served as Indian Affairs minister from 1999 to 2003.
“I have the opportunity to work for the North again. It’s always been my desire to be in public life; I enjoy it, I enjoy people, I enjoy tackling issues. So I’m looking forward to working with the mayors and councils and the First Nation leadership right across the North to find solutions to the difficult issues that we face,” explained Nault.
“We all know that we have a high unemployment rate, we all know that our biggest issue is out-migration of our young people, and we know that there are solutions to that whether it be all weather roads and grids to the North, or developing more of an economy around not only natural resources but other manufacturing bases.”
Nault said he is planning a “tour of the North” once campaign offices are packed away to meet with local leaders, talk about their priorities, and determine how he can work to make them a reality. Constituency clinics open to the public will be held all over the riding to allow people to come forward with their individual issues, he added.
“I want to thank everyone for their support. I also want to thank my campaign team in Red Lake and Ear Falls,” said Nault. “It’s pretty clear that Donny Aiken and Jack Goodwillie and all the other crew…without these guys working hard for us and their families and all the other Liberal supporters, we wouldn’t be there. I want to make sure they are recognized for all their hard work.”