The Election Result in Essex
In Essex, where the PCs won the riding for the first time in 60 years, they increased their vote by just under 2,000 votes, going from 22,731 in 2018 to 24,682 this time. The NDP on the other hand lost 13,000 votes, going from 26,054 to 13,699. Voter turnout dropped 10% in this election in Essex going from 57% in the last election to 47% in this election. The PCs’ campaign to suppress the NDP vote was in full swing.
The PC candidate Anthony Leardi is a lawyer in the town of Harrow. He won the PC nomination in November of 2020, while in December of 2021 the incumbent NDP MPP Taras Natyshak announced he would not seek re-election. The new NDP candidate was a retired detective with the Windsor Police and current public school trustee. Early polls in the riding, which is Conservative federally, indicated that the PCs could win the riding. Two months before getting the PC nomination Leardi, who taught school for a time before going into law more than two decades ago, out of the blue renewed his teaching licence with the Ontario College of Teachers. This is of note because the riding of Essex is home to the majority of members of both the elementary and secondary teachers’ federations. Presenting himself as one of them, Leardi used social media ads which painted the NDP as straying from its roots, quoting what certain former NDP candidates and MPPs had to say about the party. It may even be the case that Leardi could be lined up to become the Minister of Education or another Junior Minister, using his “credentials” as a certified teacher.