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Veteran MPP Witmer wins fifth term in Ontario election
Avoided religious school controversy
Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill
WATERLOO, Ontario – Veteran Waterloo-Kitchener Member of Provincial Parliament Elizabeth Witmer recently swept to her fifth straight victory in her electoral riding in the province’s heartland. In a campaign which locally was characterized as one fielding strong and well-known female candidates, the daughter of a Dutch immigrant family proved unbeatable.
Witmer would not say whether she would put in a bid to become the next Conservative leader if the party opts for a change of command, now that John Tory failed to gain a seat in the Provincial Parliament.
The Dutch Canadian, who previously served in Conservative cabinets as Vice-Premier and held different key portfolios, largely stayed out of the campaign’s contentious debate on funding for private religious schools. Instead, she focused on a number of local issues.
Witmer started her career as a high school teacher, and served initially as a member and subsequently as chair of the Waterloo Region District School Board when in 1987 she entered provincial politics. In the Mike Harris and Ernie Eves Conservative cabinets she served as minister of labour, health, education and environment. In 2002 she ran for the Conservative leadership.
Elsewhere, Ernie Hardeman, MPP for Oxford took his small-c conservative riding for the third time in a row. A former agriculture minister, Hardeman owns a feed mill operation and served in municipal politics before heading off to Queen’s Park in Toronto.
Former Kingston mayor John Gerretsen, a Liberal cabinet minister at Municipal Affairs and Housing, was returned in his Eastern Ontario riding of Kingston and the Islands with 47 percent of the vote. Gerretsen first served as a city councillor, then as the longest-serving mayor in Kingston's history, and has been elected as a MPP for three consecutive terms.
Green Party leader Frank de Jong failed to gain a MPP seat. His party pulled eight percent of the popular vote.
Among the unsuccessful candidates of the Green Party and New Democrat Party were several of Dutch ancestry.