Parry Sound-Muskoka will remain Tory blue after Bracebridge Mayor Graydon Smith defeated Green candidate Matt Richter in a riding many thought was going to be a tight race. Smith defeated Richter by a 2,114-vote margin. The final tally gave Smith 20,216 votes to Richter's 18,102 votes. Smith picked up 45.4 percent of the vote while Richter garnered 40.7 percent. The Parry Sound-Muskoka riding was created in 1999 when the former ridings of Parry Sound and Muskoka were merged. Long-time Progressive Conservative MPP Ernie Eves won the new riding that year and when he retired a couple of years later Norm Miller kept the riding for the Tories in a 2001 byelection. Miller subsequently won each of his re-election bids. He retired from provincial politics this year, opening the door for a new Progressive Conservative candidate to replace him. The local Tory riding association picked Smith as its representative as he attempted to make the move from municipal to provincial politics. Although this was Smith's first foray into provincial politics, it was Richter's fifth attempt at running for the Green Party in the riding. Richter is a teacher and small business owner in Port Sydney. His first attempt came in 2007 when he finished a distant fourth to Miller. Richer came back for the 2011 election and, although his vote count fell, he ran again in 2014 and finished third ahead of the NDP. In 2018 Richter placed third again with a big jump in support. The NDP placed second in that election with Erin Horvath. But in Thursday’s election, the NDP vote collapsed and Horvath walked away with only 3,391 votes. Richter felt both disappointment and pride. “I'm disappointed that we came so close but didn't get over the hurdle but feel pride because we doubled our vote and got 40 per cent of the vote,” he said. Richter wasn't sure if he'll run a sixth time, saying it's a discussion he has to have with his wife and three children. But he adds if he's the Green candidate again in 2026 or it's someone new, there will be a healthy base for that candidate to work from. The Nugget asked Richter if there was anything he could have done differently that would have won the seat. “I would say there is absolutely nothing else we could have done,” he said. “We did everything we could for our part.” His campaign had more than 400 volunteers and 1,500 signs spread across the riding on private property. The Nugget was unable to reach winning candidate Graydon Smith before deadline. Andrew John Cocks of the Ontario Party placed fourth with 1,649 votes, followed by Doug Maynard of the New Blue Party with 883 votes, Independent candidate Daniel Predie Junior with 155 votes and Brad Waddell from the Populist Party Ontario with 126 votes. Liberal candidate Barry Stanley was removed from the race after the party learned he had self-published a book where he claims homosexuality is caused by infants rebreathing their own air shortly after they are born. The Nugget reached out to the Richter and Smith campaigns for reactions on the results but did not get a response before deadline.
Rocco Frangione is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the North Bay Nugget. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.
Rocco Frangione, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The North Bay Nugget