BRAMPTON— Brampton-Springdale Liberal candidate Harinder Malhi is a new face on the provincial political scene, but she has spent the last three-and-a-half years sowing the seeds for this Ontario election night victory in Flowertown.NDP holds Bramalea-Gore-Malton Liberal Mangat easily takes... Check here for all the latest... Ontario Election: 2014 results map Vic Dhillon takes Brampton West...
With a Liberal majority government projected, about an hour after the polls closed Thursday night Malhi was in front of cheering supporters at Satkar Palace Banquet Hall declaring victory for voters and Liberals.
“Thank you all. You are my backbone,” she said.
“We have a lot of work ahead. I’ve heard your concerns,” she said, adding the Liberal budget that couldn’t find political support at Queen’s Park a month ago would be passed in the next 20 days.
Malhi, who is the daughter of former long-time Brampton Liberal MP Gurbax Malhi, called out for her father before thanking family, friends and volunteers for their support.
The elder Malhi expressed his pride as a father and also confessed his daughter’s victory fulfills his “dream” to have a family member follow in his political footsteps.
The younger Malhi brought some community recognition to the table despite being new to the provincial stage. She has been a Peel District School Board trustee since 2010.
But the sudden move to provincial politics was still a big step up for the 33-year-old real estate agent.
Malhi was confident heading into election night, believing she had the support needed to keep the Brampton-Springdale seat in Liberal hands.
“The Liberal Party is the only party with a plan,” she insisted.
Kathleen’s Wynne’s vision for Ontario was easy to sell as she knocked on doors, according to Malhi, Progressive Conservative Party Leader Tim Hudak’s plan for the province was troubling to voters.
“People are sacred of what is going to happen with the economy,” she continued. “They’re scared of losing their job.”
After some prodding though, she admitted there was concern the New Democrats and their support from labour unions could end up splitting the Liberal vote and allow Hudak and the Tories to win.
Malhi reclaimed a seat that has belonged to the Liberal Party for the last 11 years. But it was regarded as up for grabs by all three major parties heading into the Thursday’s election after incumbent Liberal MPP and cabinet minister Linda Jeffrey vacated the seat to run in the Brampton mayoral race.
Progressive Conservative candidate Pam Hundal came into this race with more battle experience than her political foes.
She ran for the PC’s in Bramalea-Gore-Malton in 2007 and finished second— by more than 7,000 votes— to former Liberal MPP Kuldip Kular.
In 2011, she campaigned for the party again in Brampton-Springdale and finished second to Jeffrey by 2,909 votes.
The second defeat was stinging, but she had made obvious headway with voters. Also, Jeffrey’s margin of victory over Hundal was much slimmer than the lopsided win of more than 7,000 votes over former Liberal MPP turned Tory candidate Carman McClelland during the 2007 races.
The local lawyer remained publicly visible between campaigns— involving herself in hot-button community issues like the Peel Memorial Hospital redevelopment and Heart Lake highrise condo proposal.
Still, she ended up a distant third in the final tally Thursday night.
As the clock approached midnight, Hundal sat around a table at Chandni Banquet Hall with family. Most of her disappointed supporters had long since departed.
“I think the voters just did not connect with the (Conservative) platform that was offered,” Hundal said during a quiet moment. “There was a huge communication gap for sure.”
That communication breakdown only fuelled the fears of voters, she said, and ultimately turned them away from the Tory platform.
New Democratic Party candidate Gurpreet Dhillon was a political neophyte running for Ontario’s third party in a community that has elected just one New Democrat to Queen’s Park— and that milestone was in last the provincial election.
However, he finished second in the Brampton-Springdale race— receiving 3,247 more votes than Hundal.
Elections Ontario results showed Malhi winning with 16,848 votes, followed by Dhillon with 13,481 votes, then Hundal with 10,234, Green Party candidate Laila Zarrabi was fourth with 1,322 votes and Communist Party candidate Elizabeth Hill had 398 votes.
The voter turnout in the riding was 46.5 per cent— the highest in the city.
During the 2011 election, Jeffrey won the Brampton-Springdale seat with 15,663 votes. Hundal ended up second with 12,754 votes and New Democrat Mani Singh was the third place finisher with 5,378 ballots.