Ray Bonin Makes It Five In A Row With Victory In Nickel Belt
Special Report by Robert Kirwan

Regardless of how you twist the numbers, and no matter what the political philosophers say, Ray Bonin made it five in a row on Monday, January 23, 2006 . With a margin of victory that was much closer than even he expected, Ray Bonin squeaked out a narrow 2107 vote difference over his nearest opponent, Claude Gravelle, and will represent the Nickel Belt once again under the Liberal banner.

With a healthy increase in voter turn-out in the Nickel Belt riding, there was very little change in the percent of the voters that supported Ray Bonin. For example, in 2004, he garnered 42.4% of the votes, and this time, two years later, and despite all of the negative fallout from the National Liberal Party scandals and blunders, he increased that to 43.1%. Claude Gravelle, on the other hand, increased his share from 34.5% in 2004 to 38.5% in 2006. It appears, however, that he picked up most of his increase from other parties rather than from the Liberals.

One thing that Claude Gravelle and the NDP supporters can feel good about this time around is that they have closed the gap significantly, and if there is a 3rd contest within the next couple of years, it may be a different story. In 2004, a total of 13,990 people voted for Gravelle. In 2006 a total of 17,668 voted for him. That represents an increase of 3678 votes. Bonin on the other hand, picked up 2587 more votes in 2006 than he did in 2004.

The Bonin camp felt that their decision to run the campaign by promoting Ray Bonin, the person, rather than Ray Bonin, a member of the Liberal party, was the right strategy. Bonin focused on issues that were of importance to the people living in the Nickel Belt riding. He went forward and presented himself as an honest, confident, hard-working person who would go to bat for all of his constituents, regardless of their political colour.

When he returns to parliament, Ray will be a member of the opposition for the first time in his political career. It will certainly change the way he approaches national issues on the hill, but it is unlikely to change the behind-the-scenes work he does on a local level for the Nickel Belt Riding.  

Claude Gravelle was satisfied that he and his supporters did everything they could possibly do during the campaign. He had 3198 votes to make up from the 2004 loss, and this time around finished up closing the gap to 2107. With the Conservatives heading into a minority situation, it is quite likely that we will be going back to the polls within another two years. So at this time, Claude will have to do some thinking about his political future. Gravelle, like Bonin, ran on his reputation as a person, and not merely as a member of the NDP party.

The one good thing about living in the Nickel Belt is that no matter who ended up getting the most votes on January 23, the people of this riding were going to be well-represented in Ottawa . For that, the entire region can be grateful. Now we can all get behind Ray Bonin and see what we can do to make the Nickel Belt more prosperous in the immediate future.

On a personal note, having the honour of knowing both Ray and Claude personally, I congratulate both of them on keeping the campaign clean and focusing on what would be in the best interests of the people of Nickel Belt. As I mentioned above, I would have felt good about being represented by either one of those two gentlemen. 

On behalf of all of the residents of Nickel Belt, I wish Ray Bonin the best of luck in the future fighting for us in Ottawa, and I urge Claude Gravelle to continue to serve this community in his own way until the next time.


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