It’s Doug Ford, folks.
The Ontario Progressive Conservatives under Ford won a majority mandate on Thursday ending more than 15 years of Liberal rule in the province, defeating Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals and Andrea Horwath’s NDP.
WATCH: 2018 Ontario election results
Ford, a former Toronto city councillor, had positioned himself from the outset of the campaign as a fiscally responsible outsider, promising to cut government waste and put money back into voters’ wallets and swept to victory riding a wave of voter resentment.
“I’m very honoured, I’m very humbled,” said Ford as he left his mother’s house Thursday evening on his way to PC election headquarters at the Toronto Congress Centre. “I want to thank our team and everyone out there.”
“I’m very grateful to the people of Ontario,” he said. “We worked right up until the last minute and we appreciate everyone’s support.”
WATCH: How Ontarians are responding to Doug Ford’s victory
Ford won his seat in Etobicoke North and Horwath held her seat in Hamilton Centre, where she has served as an MPP since 2004. In Guelph, Mike Schreiner made history Thursday night, becoming the first Green Party candidate to win a seat in an Ontario election.
With more than 98 per cent of polls reporting, the PCs had won or were leading in 76 seats and the NDP had won or were leading in 39 seats. The Liberals were leading in seven seats and the Green Party in one.
Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne was re-elected after a tight battle for her riding of Don Valley West, but announced her resignation as party leader.
Speaking to supporters gathered at the Liberal campaign headquarters, Wynne said it was “difficult night” for her party who are hoping to maintain official party status at Queen’s Park.
“This has been the greatest privilege of my life,” she said thanking party volunteers and candidates. “Everyday I have been your premier, and a minister, and an MPP that I have worked to think about your needs every single day.”
Wynne made history in 2013, when she became the first openly LGBT premier in Canada and first woman premier of Ontario after replacing Dalton McGuinty as leader of the Ontario Liberal Party. She won a majority government in the 2014 election.
“I know that tonight is not the result we were looking for and no one feels that more sharply than I do. But this is not a moment when any of us should linger,” she said. ” I hope that you can feel very proud of what we have done together in the past and absolutely determined to take on the task that lies ahead.”
Nearly all of cabinet ministers were defeated, including Attorney General Yasir Naqvi, Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault, and Steven Del Duca, minister of economic development.
Christine Elliott, who ran against Ford to lead the PCs, unseated Liberal Environment Minister Chris Ballard in the Newmarket-Aurora riding. Jim Bradley, who had held the riding of St. Catharines for the Liberals for 41 years, also lost.
Ford tells supporters Ontario is ‘open for business again’
In front of a cheering crowd of supporters at the Toronto Congress Centre, Ford spoke about a message of “hope” and “prosperity” for Ontarians.
“Tonight the people of Ontario have spoken. People from every walk of life, from every corner of this great province, people from every political stripe, you have come together around one common vision of Ontario,” he said.
“My friends, help is here. Our team will work every single day to deliver this vision. We will work every single day for a better Ontario, a better future and a brighter future for our children.”
“Tonight we have sent a message to the world that, ‘Ontario is open for business'”
READ MORE: Here’s a look at the promises Doug Ford made
Meanwhile, Horwath told supporters at the Hamilton convention centre the NDP won more seats in a generation and was “deeply humbled” to be leader of the official opposition.
“From the very start of this campaign people wanted change and I could not be more proud that we offered a positive vision,” she said. “New Democrats rejected the politics of fear and cynicism.”
Horwath said she congratulated premier-designate Ford but would work to make sure the PCs are accountable to voters.
“I told premier-designate that New Democrats will work each and every day for the change that families need to make life better for all of us.”
Ford’s improbable run to be the next premier only began March 10 after winning the PC leadership in a hotly contested race following the resignation of Patrick Brown amid sexual misconduct allegations. The Toronto businessman immediately set his sights on Wynne for past Liberal scandals before turning his attention to the New Democrats, who began the election in third-place but rose dramatically in public opinion polls.
And despite not releasing a fully costed campaign platform, something he had promised to do for months, he made a number of expensive promises without offering details on how they would be paid for. His promise to find billions in government “inefficiencies” came with equally few details.
WATCH: How Doug Ford won a majority government
Some of his big-ticket items include a 20 per cent tax cut for the middle class, scrapping the Liberals’ updated sex-ed curriculum, ending cap and trade, reducing business taxes, while also building new long-term care beds, and a tax rebate for child care. Ford, who at times drew comparisons to Donald Trump, also made a number of populist pledges including cutting gas prices by 10 cents a litre, introducing buck-a-beer and cutting hydro bills by 12 percent.
Polls throughout the campaign that showed voters wanting change appeared correct as the province, which has had a Liberal premier since 2003, turned blue.
Among the names that could sit in Ford’s cabinet are Elliott, along with former leadership rival, Caroline Mulroney, the daughter of former prime minister Brian Mulroney. Other potential ministers could include newly elected Rod Phillips and MPPs Vic Fedeli, Lisa MacLeod, Steve Clark, and John Yakabuski.
Ford, 53, is the second son of Diane and Doug Ford Sr., a provincial politician for one term in the late 1990s. He’s also served as the head Deco Labels and Tags — the family’s multimillion-dollar company with operations in Canada and the U.S.
An often controversial figure, he served on Toronto’s city council along with his late brother, Rob Ford, the former mayor who admitted to smoking crack cocaine and made international headlines.
While there have been no shortage of controversies throughout the campaign, just days before the election, it was revealed that the widow of Ford’s brother was suing the PC leader for more than $16 million. The suit claims Ford mishandled the estate of his late brother, causing her and her children financial harm. Her suit also alleges Ford has mismanaged the family business, Deco Labels, destroying the value of the company.
Ford has denied the allegations and vowed to fight them in court.
— With files from the Canadian Press