MITCHELL – After a longer than expected wait, it was Matt Rae’s young niece who broke the news. “The elected MPP is my uncle Matty!” she announced as MP John Nater held her up to the microphone. The Mitchell Golf Club, where supporters had gathered to watch the election unfold, erupted in applause and cheers.
“Good things come to those who wait,” Rae began his speech. “I started the nomination process six months ago, and we are now here six months later … For everyone here tonight, thank you so much. The people of Perth-Wellington have casted their vote and I have accepted their verdict – not only with excitement – but also with the solemn anticipation the weight of elected office holds. It’s an honor to be elected as Perth-Wellington’s next Progressive Conservative MPP.”
The results, as of that night, were still unofficial, but Elections Ontario reported that Rae received 19,451 votes. NDP Jo-Dee Burbach, in second place, received 9,162. The Liberal’s Ashley Fox had 6,680, the Green’s Laura Bisutti had 2,622, the New Blue’s Bob Hosken had 2,455, the Ontario Party’s Sandy MacGregor had 983, and the Freedom Party’s Robby Smink had 181.
The newly nominated Rae takes over from his predecessor Randy Pettapiece, who announced his retirement in November of last year. This is the fourth straight win for the PCs in the riding and Rae’s first. After Rae gave a speech to his supporters, thanking his team, his family, and everyone that voted for him, Pettapiece took to the podium to give him a gift.
“This is a picture that was in my office for almost 11 years,” Pettapiece explained, handing Matt a landscape. “It signifies what a politician has to be, how he has to represent the riding and they have to keep on doing that as long as they're here. It says … ‘Persistence.’”
When asked what advice Pettapiece offered has stuck with him, that was what Rae responded: persistence.
“It takes a lot of persistence, no matter what party you're from, to get things done for your community,” Rae said. “So I know going forward, that will have to be a key characteristic I use.”
He says one of the key priorities for his government is rural broadband. “Our re-elected government is committed to having rural broadband across Ontario by 2025,” Rae said. “That will happen under this mandate. (We are) continuing to work with our local telecommunications companies to get those projects finished. There are still areas in the riding that need high speed internet. The pandemic has definitely shown us that that is needed for whether it's hybrid work or online learning, so continuing to make those investments locally.”
Rural broadband isn’t the only issue he expressed concern with. Affordable housing, long term care, and agricultural issues are also on his mind heading into Queen’s Park. He said the biggest issue he found when knocking on doors was affordability – and that issue persists in many facets of his constituents’ lives. Rae is hoping that through a cut to the gas tax coming on July 1 and other business tax credits, that can alleviate some of the pressures facing Ontarians.
“This is the start of a chapter of his life,” Pettapiece said. He had previously worked with Rae and knew him on a personal level before he was voted as the next PC candidate. His advice to Rae? “He has to remember the people of the riding. We spent six months of the year in Toronto. No one in Toronto ever voted for me … its not the people down there that you work for. It’s the people in your riding you work for.”
Pettapiece said that he was sure that Rae will do a good job and he is happy of the legacy he has left for Rae to pick up.
When asked if he will be enjoying his win long into the night, Rae laughed. “No, no. I plan to be in the office tomorrow. I said ready on day one!”
Connor Luczka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Listowel Banner