MPP Ernie Hardeman will return to Queen’s Park to represent Oxford County for his seventh term and be part of a majority government for the first time since 2003
Ernie Hardeman with his grandsons Chris and Jeremy Hardeman following his win in Oxford at the Woodstock Navy club. (CHRIS FUNSTON/SENTINEL-REVIEW)
It’s taken some time, but Oxford’s longest-serving MPP is again a member of the provincial party in power after defeating first-time NDP candidate Tara King and Liberal James Howard.
Hardeman, who has been a MPP since he defeated NDP incumbent Kimble Sutherland in 1995, is the longest serving MPP ever in Oxford County.
“It’s very rewarding to be in a majority government where you can actually implement things rather than just criticize,” Hardman said. “But I believe I served the people of Oxford very well as member of the opposition.”
Hardeman was previously part of Mike Harris’s majority government from 1995 to 2003. This will be his seventh term.
“I’m elated by the fact the people of Oxford have allowed me to serve for another term,” Hardeman said. “I believe that working within the system and working hard for the people of Oxford is the answer.
“It’s going to be a great evening.”
In a neck-and-neck race for provincial leadership, it was a mostly drama-free campaign in Oxford County, with a focus on health care, the fate of the proposed Walker landfill site and high-speed rail.
Hardeman previously served as the opposition critic for municipal affairs and housing. As a member of the governing party, he had served as minister of agriculture, food and rural affairs and associate minister of municipal affairs.
With nine candidates running this campaign, it was one of the larger fields for voters to choose from but, like most ridings, it came down to a two-horse race.
King, a first-time candidate for the NDP, described her campaign experience as “humbling” and pledged to run again.
“I gained a tremendous amount of knowledge and heard the struggles and issues concerning Oxford County specifically,” she said. “Helping people drives me and there are a number of people in Oxford County who need help.”
Candidates were largely in agreement on local issues such as the proposed dump in Zorra Township and high-speed rail, both of which candidates were strongly against.
When it came to school closures and jobs in Ontario, the NDP and PC butted heads.
King, alongside London-Fanshawe NDP candidate Teresa Armstrong, claimed that if a Ford government was to take over it would lead to over 400 jobs lost in Woodstock and put 780 schools across Ontario on the chopping block.
It was a claim which Hardeman declared as false.