Blair: 22 per cent

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Local Conservative supporters were smiling last night despite their candidate’s defeat in the federal election, focusing instead on successful PC-Alliance integration efforts in Kingston and the Islands.

Blair MacLean, the Conservative candidate, finished with 22 per cent of the vote when ballots were counted yesterday. MacLean first entered his campaign party at around 10 p.m. to chants of “Blair, Blair,” that soon faded into handshakes and quiet congratulations. He left shortly afterwards to deliver a concession speech at Peter Milliken’s gathering, returning to Whiskey Willy’s to address his supporters around 11:30.

MacLean’s campaign chair began the evening’s formal proceedings by thanking party volunteers for their hard work throughout the campaign and for a smooth transition to the new Conservative Party. MacLean was then introduced by a friend and campaign volunteer as “the best MP we never had.”

MacLean approached the podium and raised his hand to still enthusiastic applause from approximately 75 supporters.

“I’ve always wanted to do that,” he joked.

MacLean thanked his fellow candidates, including Rosie the Clown, whom he said “offered lighthearted moments during what was at times a tense campaign.

“Thank you to all the candidates for contributing to our democracy,” he said. “Now, we’ve had enough political speeches during this campaign, so let’s enjoy tonight for what it is: a celebration of our hard work.”

“It was greatly rewarding to run,” MacLean told the Journal following his speech. “Just to be a candidate exposes you to large parts of the city you wouldn’t otherwise see, and lets you see the many good things that there are.”

MacLean also recommended priorities for Milliken as the Liberal incumbent returns to Ottawa.

“We’re the slowest-growing economy in Eastern Ontario, and we need to address that so we’re not any longer,” MacLean said. “Residents have brought that up-people want to see the city move forward.” The mood at Whiskey Willy’s was resigned but cheerful throughout the evening, as supporters chatted over beer and peanuts.

Ryan Krushelnitzky, PhD’06, was one of those supporters. He had helped with signage and canvassing for the MacLean campaign and served as a scrutineer at St. James’ Church polling station yesterday.

“There were lots of students voting today,” he said, “or at least a lot of young people.”

Krushelnitzky said the merger of the Progressive Conservatives and the Canadian Alliance had “nothing at all” to do with his decision to support MacLean and the Conservative Party.

“Liberal corruption,” he said of his choice. “The other things, like lower taxes, don’t really affect me right now.”

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