By Jeff Morris
[dropcap]G[/dropcap]Goldie Ghamari smiled when the reality of representing Carleton in the Queen’s Park Legislature hit her.
“I am going to hit the ground running,” she said with eyes filled with anticipation.
Ghamari was the big winner among all of Ottawa’s election winners Thursday night. The Progressive Conservative MPP-elect earned 25,798 votes. NDP candidate Courtney Potter, a 22-year-old student, was impressive in the all-candidates meetings and managed to come in second place with 11,308 votes. Liberal Teresa Qadri was third with 9,768 votes. Green Party candidate Gordon Kubanek had 1,985 votes, while Evan Nightingale of the None of the Above Party had 413 votes. Jay Tysick, interim leader of the Ontario Party, had 399 votes. Jean-Serge Brisson of the Libertarian Party had 386, Kevin Harris of the Cultural Action Party had 110 votes, and independent candidate Mark Dickson had 89 votes.
Everyone in this room has played an important role and I am forever grateful,” Ghamari said to a roomful of supporters at the Manotick Legion on election night. “I feel that, as a politician, I’m the least important person in this room. I’m here to be your voice; I’m here to listen to you; I’m here to take your concerns to Queen’s Park as your representative.”
Ghamari, a trade lawyer, replaces Lisa MacLeod as the local MPP. MacLeod was elected in the newly-formed riding of Nepean. Ghamari ran a campaign much different than the fire-and-brimstone style of MacLeod campaign’s that local voters were used to seeing. MacLeod was the quintessential opposition MPP during her campaigns, while Ghamari’s campaign stayed away from aggressive politics.
“We ran a campaign on what we could do for the people,” Ghamari said. “What I am very proud of is that we ran a campaign on positivity. We ran a campaign on what we can bring to the table. As (campaign volunteer) Glen Brooks said, we always take the high road. It’s a strategy that’s tried and true and it’s one I am going to take to Queen’s Park.”
Ghamari’s 25,798 votes topped all candidates within the City of Ottawa, as did her total of getting 51.3 per cent of votes in her riding, and her margin of victory of 14,490 votes.
“I’m shocked and I’m humbled by everyone’s support,” Ghamari said. “I have been working hard for two years and I kept my message positive – who I am, why I am running and what I am going to do for them. I think the numbers show that people respond to positivity and integrity.”
Ghamari’s campaign got a last-minute boost when Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford made a surprise stop at Dickinson Days in Manotick last Saturday, just days before the election.
“The nice thing about having Doug in Manotick is that we didn’t actually advertise it,” Ghamari said. “The people that were there were just going to Dickinson Days. They had no idea that Doug Ford was going to be there.”
Ghamari said that Ford’s visit to Carleton was more effective because it was stealth.
“I wanted Doug to get a really good sense of what it’s like on the ground,” she said. “The support that he had was overwhelming. People were excited to see him and take a picture with him. He was supposed to be there for half an hour and he stayed for almost two hours.”
Ghamari said she plans on hitting the ground running, adding that she will be a strong voice for Carleton. Over the past 18 months, she has been hosting public forums in communities throughout the riding on various issues.
“Obviously hydro is a big deal, especially for local businesses and farms,” she said. “The other big issue locally is the economy. We have small businesses shutting down because they can’t afford to operate. There are big problems here, and I want to be there for small businesses because they create jobs and they are crucial to our local economy.”
Ghamari joins a Tory caucus that will have a strong Eastern Ontario presence. Nepean’s MacLeod and Steve Clark of Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes.
“We have been united, and we are one team,” Ghamari said. “We are going to continue to work together.”
MacLeod said that she is sad to leave Carleton with her former Nepean-Carleton riding being split into two. She offered praise for Ghamari on her win.
“She ran a very effective campaign and she worked hard,” MacLeod said.