Liberals 103, NDP 29, Bloc 51, Ind 1

Local Tories applaud Conservatives minority, regret Grimshaw’s loss

Conservative candidate Lou Grimshaw (second from right) converses with supporters as well as Mayor Harvey Rosen (second from left).
Conservative candidate Lou Grimshaw (second from right) converses with supporters as well as Mayor Harvey Rosen (second from left).
Claire Adams

Conservative candidate Lou Grimshaw gracefully proclaimed defeat at 11:30 p.m. last night, telling the 30-odd supporters who had gathered at Boston Pizza on Gardiners Road that he “[didn’t] know what else we could have done.”

“I thought we ran an excellent campaign,” Grimshaw told the Journal after returning from a quick drive to the Ambassador Hotel to congratulate newly re-elected Liberal Peter Milliken. “I think the party has done very well, especially by taking seats in Quebec. I think that’s really, really important [for federal unity].”

Upon his return to the blue-and-white-decorated room at Boston Pizza, Grimshaw said he thinks new Prime Minister Stephen Harper will first address the issue of governmental accountability.

“Stephen Harper’s going to do what he said he was going to do, [and] that’s what he said he was going to do first.”

Earlier in the evening, Carey Bidtnes, the candidate’s daughter-in-law as well as the office manager and scheduler for his campaign, said she was “cautiously optimistic” before the riding’s results began to trickle in.

Bidtnes said she joined the campaign because she saw significant improvements in the Conservative party.

“I think the party was just too young in 2004,” she said. “I became really impressed how the Conservatives had learned from the last [election], and I know that for Kingston and the Islands, Lou is the best candidate.”

But voters appeared to disagree, handing Milliken his sixth term in Parliament with 45.9 per cent of the vote. Grimshaw earned the second-most votes in the riding, garnering 26.1 per cent.

The defeated candidate said he was grateful to everyone who had supported him and helped with his campaign.

“We ran to win, and we didn’t expect any particular result, but we did hope it would be closer,” he said.

The loudest cheers of the evening—aside from the warm applause that followed Grimshaw’s ruefully upbeat farewell speech—came when the restaurant’s big-screen TVs showed that Queen’s alumnus and Conservative candidate John Baird had won his seat in Ottawa West-Nepean.

The group saved their second-loudest rounds of applause for an appearance by former prime minister Brian Mulroney on CTV, and for when the Toronto Maple Leafs scored their third goal against the Ottawa Senators.

The evening’s loudest catcalls came courtesy of former Conservative and current Liberal MP Belinda Stronach. When the news of her victory flashed onto the TV screens, the assembled crowd responded with vehement boos.

Walter Knott, the official agent for Grimshaw’s campaign and the treasurer of the Kingston and the Islands Conservative Association, said he was disappointed with the results.

“I gave [Grimshaw] my full support. I’m sorry he lost,” Knott said. “I think federally we expected a minority Conservative government, but we hoped locally people would look at Lou and see he’s a good man, a man of the community.”

Both Knott and Bidtnes said they were disappointed in the campaign led by former Prime Minister Paul Martin.

“Martin got really dirty there in tactics at the end,” Bidtnes said.

Knott agreed.

“He ran a nasty, negative campaign,” he said.

Nonetheless, Grimshaw said he had no regrets.

“I learned a lot,” he said. “My appreciation for the diversity and complexity of this riding has gone up.

“I think running for public office is something everyone should do at least once.”

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