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Should Scheer have done more to support Sonny Spina?

Not one of the federal party leaders made it to Sault Ste. Marie during the 2019 election period
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10-21-19 Sonny Spina 2
Conservative candidate Sonny Spina addresses supporters after his loss to Terry Sheehan in the federal election on Monday, Oct. 21, 2019. David Helwig/SooToday

Lack of national leader support didn't adversely affect Sonny Spina's failed election bid, the Sault Conservative candidate said last night.

"Whoever was here for me didn't make a difference," Spina told reporters after his loss to Liberal incumbent Terry Sheehan by 2,732 votes.

"I was here for the people and I'll continue to do that." the Sault Ste. Marie police officer said.

The Conservative party leader, Andrew Scheer, didn't make it to Sault Ste. Marie during the 2019 election period.

Neither did Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, New Democrat Jagmeet Singh, Green Party's Elizabeth May or even People's Party leader Maxime Bernier, who lost his own riding of Beauce last night, which he'd held since 2006.

Could Spina have done better with more support from his national party?

"I'm not sure of that," he told SooToday.

"My focus was on the people of Sault Ste. Marie. I wanted to hear firsthand what the people of Sault Ste. Marie wanted and what they were looking for."

"A lot of folks told me at the doors that they weren't sure what some of the national campaigns were or what was happening. They hadn't seen it in the media. And I told them this is why this is the most important part for me to come door-to-door, so I can hear from you what you actually want and see if it's actually in line with what our party is proposing."

When the ballots were counted in Sault Ste. Marie last night:

  • Liberal Terry Sheehan received 16,084 votes (39.0 per cent)
  • Conservative Sonny Spina was supported by 13,352 voters (32.4 per cent)
  • New Democrat Sara McCleary had 9,317 votes (22.6 per cent)
  • Green Party's Geo McLean got 1,781 votes (4.3 per cent)
  • Amy Zuccato from the People's Party got 733 voters (1.8 per cent)

Voter turnout was 41,267 of 66,235 registered electors, or 62.3 per cent, not including electors who registered on election day.

That compared to Sault turnouts of 69.16 per cent in 2015, 64.19 per cent in 2011, 59.42 per cent in 2008 and 67.75 per cent in 2006.

National voter turnout in 2019 was 65.95 per cent.

Here in the Sault, Spina's street team kept knocking on doors all day Monday, even through the rain, until around 8 p.m.

Spina himself stopped canvassing only when he couldn't think of any other place he needed to go.

Over the entire campaign, he estimates more than 35,000 doors were visited.

Did he anticipate his loss to incumbent Sheehan?

"You're always ready for the best but you prepare for the worst as well," he told SooToday.

"My history has always taught me to be prepared for all outcomes in all situations, so absolutely, I was prepared for either outcome tonight."

"I wasn't really sure what to expect. There wasn't a lot of information related to polling in Sault Ste. Marie and I don't listen to polls anyway."

Just over 30 Conservative faithful were present at the Machine Shop for Spina’s address after his loss to Sheehan.

Spina commended his campaign team for its civility.

“Our team was amazing. They did absolutely nothing negative during this campaign,” he told supporters. 

"They focussed on our positive vision for Sault Ste. Marie and how we can move Sault Ste. Marie forward."

“That will never end and that is a promise that I give to this community."

The local campaign was remarkably civil, compared to the federal race.

"We actually did 11 different debates," Spina said.

"If you were to look back at those debates, I think you'll find that everybody acted admirably."

"Everyone treated each other with respect. Everyone allowed each other to make their points and continued on making their own points. I was very happy to see that."

Spina expressed hope that MP Sheehan will consider some of the suggestions he and his party made during the campaign.

"I'm always open to him to sit and chat and talk, because I do hope that they take some of the ideas that we had to move people forward and make ends meet."

Spina said he will now return to Sault Ste. Marie Police Service to assume as-yet-undetermined duties.

He thanked his wife Lindsay for never once complaining when he answered voter emails in the middle of the night.

Here are the national seat counts from yesterday's election:

  • Liberals - 157
  • Conservatives - 121
  • Bloc Québécois - 32
  • New Democrats - 24
  • Other - 4
  • Total - 338

For a majority government, 170 seats are needed.

The following are results from Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing:

  • Carol Hughes from the New Democratis got 16,740 votes (41.6 per cent)
  • Conservative Dave Williamson had 10,557 votes (26.3 per cent)
  • Heather Wilson of the Liberals collected 9,760 votes (24.3 per cent)
  • Green Party's Max Chapman got 2,145 votes (5.3 per cent)
  • Dave Delisle of the People's Party has 883 supporters (2.2 per cent)
  • Le Marquis De Marmalade of the Rhinocéros Party managed to impale 124 votes (0.3 per cent)

Voter turnout in Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing was 40,209 of 65,420 registered electors, or 61.46 per cent, not including electors who registered on election day.




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David Helwig

About the Author: David Helwig

David Helwig's journalism career spans six decades beginning in the 1960s. His work has been recognized with national and international awards.
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