CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - With disappointment etched on his face, District 11 Liberal candidate Bob Doiron said he gave it everything he had.
Doiron finished second to Green party candidate Hannah Bell in Monday’s byelection.
“No regrets, I tried my hardest, and that’s democracy,’’ Doiron said as he received hugs from friends, family and Liberal MLAs at his party headquarters.
“I gave everything I could, and it wasn’t (meant) to be.’’
Bell won the race with 768 votes while Doiron came second with 611 votes. Melissa Hilton (Progressive Conservative) was third with 586 votes and NDP leader Mike Redmond came in last with 202 votes.
Doiron said he was humbled by how everyone came together and pitched in.
“People that I’d never met before jumped in here and volunteered for hours and hours and hours. I’m deeply humbled with the campaign, with how we worked together. I’m disappointed, of course, I’m not the winner, but I’ve learned a lot and we’ll come back another day.’’
Doiron was one of two Charlottetown city councillors who took a run at the District 11 seat. Hilton was the other. Both will now be returning to their council duties. Interestingly enough, civic voters go to the polls in November 2018 although neither Doiron nor Hilton were thinking that far ahead Monday night.
“I feel fine,’’ Hilton told The Guardian. “Disappointed, absolutely, but, you know, it was an incredible opportunity to run with the Conservatives, and I don’t regret a minute of it. It was an experience I’ll never forget.’’
Hilton praised her volunteers, saying they helped her to get to every door even if she didn’t get to meet every single eligible voter.
Even if she didn’t win, Hilton feels the Green victory sends a clear message to the governing Liberal party.
“I do feel a message was sent to our premier that a change is needed, and there will be a change in the next general election.’’
Premier Wade MacLauchlan doesn’t see it that way.
“We went into this (byelection) knowing it was a tight race,’’ MacLauchlan told The Guardian. “These things are always a challenge, but it’s the nature of democracy. We went at it and worked hard and had a good candidate in Bob, and the voters spoke and, as I say, that’s the beauty of democracy.
“We’ll go back into the legislature (today) with a strong working majority, with a program that has been laid out in the speech from the throne and with the Island doing well.’’
Opposition leader James Aylward said that’s exactly what happened Monday night – voters want change.
“I’ve been saying all along that the electorate was going to send a clear message to Wade MacLauchlan and the tired Liberal government,’’ Aylward said. “Is this the message I was hoping to deliver to the government? No, it was not, but I’m very proud of the campaign that we ran; I am extremely proud of Melissa and the hard work that she and a huge core of volunteers in District 11 did.
Having two members of the Green Party in the legislature is certainly bound to change the dynamic.
“Well, the dynamic changes every day in the legislature,’’ the premier said. “That’s our job, we’re in there, we’ve got three parties represented in the legislature (and) we work together to implement and to work together to put together a program.’’
The Guardian attempted to reach Redmond for comment following the final tally of votes, but he could not be reached.