The Election Result in Windsor-Tecumseh
The last time Windsor-Tecumseh had a Conservative MPP was 93 years ago. In this election, the PCs’ votes increased by roughly 6,000 votes, going from 11,675 in the last election to 17,673. However, the NDP’s vote dropped by14,000 – going from 25,221 to 11,532. This suggests a lot of previous NDP voters decided to reject any of the parties and not vote at all this time, as the voter turnout went from 48% in 2018 to 40% in this election.
Before being elected as the new PC MPP, Andrew Dowie, a civil engineer, was a councillor in the town of Tecumseh for the past eight years as well as being employed for over 15 years by the City of Windsor. Positions he held with the City of Windsor included a stint as Policy and Economic Development Officer in the Mayor’s Office. Dowie’s public profile shows that his duties in the Mayor’s Office and some of the other positions he held with the City included government relations. Economic development and government relations portfolios are usually directly involved with working out ways municipalities can pay large companies to set up shop. Clearly Dowie would have been seen as a good fit to ensure that all the arrangements and infrastructure needed to cater to the global firms like LG and others in the electric battery industry that want to set up shop would be taken care of.
The current Mayor of Windsor, also an open supporter of the Conservative Party federally and the PCs provincially used his position to very publicly endorse Doug Ford and the PC candidates locally, in particular Dowie in Windsor-Tecumseh. He touted the Ford government up as the one that had brought investment to the city, providing public funds for the battery plant and related EV projects, the twinning of Highway 3 and a promise to follow through on building a new mega-hospital on the city’s outskirts adjacent to the Windsor airport.
Dowie also received the enthusiastic endorsement of the Mayor of Tecumseh and Warden of Essex County, a well known Liberal who has been a candidate for the Party himself in past elections. These endorsements of high level municipal Liberal and PC politicians indicates that those in power wanted a direct line to government in order to “get it done” in terms of swift, unimpeded decision-making for the rollout of big public investments in the automotive and EV battery industries in the area. The request that the government intervene to provide a ministerial zoning order right after the election is one example of this.
Another example of how this played out during the election was that just one week into the election a bad news story made headlines in all the major news agencies about Windsor-Essex losing out on a $2.5-billion investment from LG Chem to build a plant that would employ over 1,000 people to produce cathodes and other materials for the new battery plant. The reason given was that the area did not have enough electrical capacity to meet the needs of the project. Comments by the CEO of the economic development group Invest WindsorEssex about the company being “annoyed that something as basic as electricity infrastructure is hindering the further expansion of our automobility cluster” drove home his point that approvals needed to come faster and the province had to “push the building out of infrastructure in anticipation of demand.”
Shortly after the story broke, the mayors of Windsor and Tecumseh challenged the notion that the area could not find the way to come up with enough power to fulfil the plant’s needs. This was followed by Doug Ford making a campaign stop in Windsor and promising to invest $1 billion in the local power supply if re-elected. This was understood to mean the fast tracking of five new power transmission lines his government had already approved to service the battery “gigafactory“ and greenhouse operations in the region. Ford’s promise led the InvestWindsor CEO to say it was now a “settled situation” and that the government had made “incredible contributions” to big projects in the region and that he was now working to get LG Chem to reconsider and to attract other new companies to the area as well.
In sum, the PCs used their promise of billions of dollars in handouts to companies involved in Green Energy and swift regulatory approvals as well as the prospect of hundreds of new jobs to win the support of key players in the area who acted to suppress the NDP vote in various ways. This did not result in a massive swing of voters to the PCs but rather a large loss of NDP voters who did not vote at all. As happened in most ridings across the province, the majority of electors in Windsor-Tecumseh made a statement that none of the parties can speak in their name.