JOHN ROBBINS/Bullet News
Bart Maves will represent the Niagara Falls Progressive Conservatives in the next provincial election.
A packed house at the Americana on Lundy’s Lane gathered to select the PC candidate Wednesday night.
“We have a big task ahead of us to defeat the Liberals in this riding and I will need all of you,” Maves told a crowd of about 1,500 people. “We all thought that the government of Bob Rae and the NDP were the worst government we’ve ever had. After experiencing 10 years of Dalton McGuinty and the Liberals, I was wrong.”
It was a preferential ballot, with voters ranking candidates 1, 2, 3. A winner needed 50 per cent plus one. Organizers said Maves scored a decisive win but did not provide details. They did they same thing in St. Catharines last week when Mat Siscoe defeated Bruce Timms.
Maves defeated fellow Niagara Falls Reg. Coun. Barb Greenwood along with Niagara-on-the-Lake businessman John Wiens.
PC Ontario party president Richard Ciano was on hand for the evening’s program. He told Bullet News the Niagara Falls riding is the 90th of 107 ridings to hold its nomination meeting. It’s also the biggest contest so far, with more than 2,000 paid memberships. Just shy of 1,500 people cast ballots.
In the 2010 municipal election, Maves topped the regional polls in Niagara Falls. He made a run for regional chairman’s job but wound up losing to Gary Burroughs. Maves said he is enjoying his time on regional council and is learning a lot about how provincial decisions impact the local municipalities.
Before running for office, Maves was a legislative assistant to St. Catharines MP Ken Atkinson. He also worked as a planning secretariat for Alberta Education.
Maves was first elected to the Ontario legislature in 1995, defeating Liberal Marg Germano and incumbent New Democrat Margaret Harrington. Maves was re-elected in 1999, this time finishing ahead of Liberal candidate Selina Volpatti.
Maves, 47, lost in 2003 to Craitor by more than 3,000 votes, and then lost again in 2007. The Niagara Falls riding includes Fort Erie and Niagara-on-the-Lake.
Addressing the crowd after he had been declared the winner, Maves congratulated his opponents on running good campaigns and urged all sides of the party to come together and focus on the job ahead.
“We have a big task ahead of us to defeat the Liberals in this riding and I need all of you,” Maves said.
Both Greenwood and Wiens thanked their supporters and called for a united-front approach in preparation for an election, which could come as early as this spring.
“Now the real work begins,” said Greenwood. “Now is the time for us to come together and ensure our party wins the next election.”