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'It wasn't clear what would be in jeopardy if I had lost,' says victorious Terry Sheehan

The cappelletti-satiated Sheehans were settling into another evening of staring at the Elections Canada website when the news broke. 'YESSS!' was Terry's response
20210921 Terry Sheehan KA 02
Incumbent candidate Terry Sheehan offers a thumbs up as he walks into the local Liberal post-election festivities at the Grand Theatre shortly after midnight on Tuesday. Kenneth Armstrong/SooToday

Results from all Sault polling stations are now in and incumbent Liberal MP Terry Sheehan has emerged on top with 15,231 votes.

That puts Sheehan 247 votes ahead of Conservative challenger Sonny Spina, whose unofficial tally was 14,984.

Assuming no recounts or court challenges, Sheehan will represent the federal riding of Sault Ste. Marie in Ottawa.

Here are the semi-official standings, as announced by Elections Canada late Wednesday:

People's Party - PPC Kasper Makowski 1,943 4.8 %
NDP-New Democratic Party   Marie Morin-Strom   8,043 20.0 %
Liberal Terry Sheehan 15,231   37.9 %
Conservative Sonny Spina 14,984 37.3 %

Just the night before, only one Sault polling station remained uncounted.

It consisted of 1,983 mail-in ballots returned to Elections Canada from 2,342 local voting kits issued.

For more than two days, Sheehan and Spina had been locked in a dead heat, waiting for final poll results to determine which of them would be Sault Ste. Marie's next member of Parliament.

Based on feedback received during the election campaign, Sheehan was confident of winning.

"I've been sitting here with my family, from election day, watching the polls come in," he told SooToday after the news of his victory broke.

Around 10 p.m. Wednesday, the Sheehans were monitoring multiple news sources including SooToday, Elections Canada and other outlets.

"Sometimes the media is quicker. Sometimes Elections Canada is quicker, but they're usually within step."

Cappelletti soup

"Lisa [his wife] is absolutely fabulous. I just love spending so much time with her."

"Tonight, we began our celebration before the results came in by having cappelletti soup and just talking about it ... She's my Number 1 confidante. For me, having Lisa behind me is like having a thousand people behind me."

Soon, the cappelletti-satiated couple were kicking back and staring at the Elections Canada website.

"Elections Canada updated it. As soon as I saw those numbers, I was very happy. I saw that and I went YESSS!"

"I was just very happy. I said 'Lisa, we did it!'

Kate's mail-in ballot

And then the phone calls to and from family and friends began.

Daughter Kate, celebrating her 20th birthday at Ottawa University, was one of the mail-in voters who put Terry over the top.

"She was awesome. She did the mail-in ballot. Hers was counted this evening."

Soon, son Riley was also on the line.

"Knocked on a thousand doors with me. Went out all the time with me. It was a great effort."

'You talk about different ways people voted. My daughter did a mail-in. Riley did an advance poll. Lisa and I voted day of the election. My father and my mother – my father's 92 – everywhere I go it's like: 'Your dad was principal at Lakeway. Your dad was principal at Korah. Your dad was principal at Alexander Henry when I went there.' They went up to Elections Canada and they did a write-in early. My father has some mobility issues."  


"My family's always factored in tremendously in my success."

"Right now, my phone, as I'm talking to you is ringing. I can hear the beeps and beeps and beeps and beeps and beeps."

Sheehan says news of the electoral victory has "reinvigorated" him.

"I've got lots of energy and experience to continue to get the results that Sault Ste. Marie needs."

"We've had record-breaking announcements that have translated into jobs."

"Let's be honest, it wasn't clear what would be in jeopardy if I had lost."

Algoma Steel

Which 'record-breaking' announcement was Sheehan referring to?

What might have been lost if he'd not been re-elected?

"There wasn't one. But I have invested a tremendous amount of time and energy into these great projects, small medium or large.

The $420-million Algoma Steel electric arc steelmaking announcement is one example, he says.

The Tenaris announcement was another.

"Huge investments. We're talking about anchoring both those places in town for a very long time."

"With Algoma Steel, it's record-breaking. $420 million, which is substantive because it's going to anchor in the community for generations."

Big Lake Cabin

And Big Lake Cabin, the Queen Street eatery serving locally sourced Hogan’s Homestead maple syrup to Findlay’s Fungus mushrooms, City Meat Market sausages and St. Joseph Island coffee.

"They had accessed a number of programs that we put in place that helped them and helped their employees."

"The Conservatives had a very convoluted approach to things. People had a really difficult time understanding what and where they would do. They seemed to say one thing one day and something the next day."

Another important issue to Sheehan is $10-a-day daycare.

"I'm committed to see these projects through. See all these jobs. Fighting climate change. I'm looking forward to it."

"We got a lot of feedback from people. They're really pleased with the record-breaking announcements. A lot of them continued to josh me and said: 'Terry, really appreciate the announcements but we want more.' And I'm up to that right now."

Spina thanks supporters

Conservative candidate, Sonny Spina, reached out to supporters in a Facebook post which read:

"Thank you to our incredible team of volunteers and supporters from across our great city who stepped up to spread our message of Canada’s Recovery Plan over the course of the campaign.

While we didn’t get the results we had hoped for, I’m proud of our team for all of the work they did and the love and support they have shown to Lindsay and I. We will be forever grateful for everything you have done.

Thank you to all other candidates and their teams locally who shared in thoughtful debate and discussion with us over the campaign, and congratulations to Terry Sheehan and his team for being elected in Sault Ste. Marie.

It has been an honour to be your candidate Sault Ste. Marie. Thank you for allowing me this privilege."

Mayor Provenzano responds

Sault Mayor Christian Provenzano was quick to congratulate both Sheehan and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on their victories.

"Terry has always worked hard for our community and I am confident that he will continue to do so," Provenzano said.

"I appreciate the positive and productive working relationship that we have developed and I look forward to it continuing."

"I would also like to congratulate Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his government on its re-election. I believe the prime minister has demonstrated a strong commitment to Sault Ste. Marie. I look forward to finalizing projects that are underway, undertaking new initiatives consistent of common interest and working together to address critical challenges like climate change," the mayor said.

Is a recount possible?

A judicial recount is automatic whenever the leading candidates in an electoral district get the same number of votes, or if the difference in votes is less than one one-thousandth of the total votes cast.

The total number of votes cast in Monday's election in Sault Ste. Marie was 40,201

Any voter or candidate may also ask a judge to perform a judicial recount, but that request must be accompanied by an affidavit indicating that the count was:

  • improperly carried out
  • ballots improperly rejected
  • the statement of the vote contains an incorrect number of votes cast for a candidate
  • the returning officer incorrectly added up results

Results of judicial recounts are final.

Judicial recounts deal only with tabulation and counting of votes, while allegations of fraud or electoral irregularities in the electoral process are dealt with through contested election applications.