McNeely fends off PC contender

Ottawa-Orleans is still red.

The battle for power in the east end was retained by Liberal incumbent Phil McNeely as he narrowly secured his third-straight term by about 2,600 votes.

“I’m very, very pleased to serve in the McGuinty government once more. I’m feeling elated tonight,” said McNeely, as his supporters were celebrating at the Mouvement d’implication francophone d’Orleans cultural centre.

But it wasn’t an easy win.

The political veteran and former Cumberland councillor had two current city politicos — including former staffer Bob Monette — campaigning against him, throwing their weight behind PC candidate and lawyer Andrew Lister.

In the end, Lister mustered just under 40% of the votes cast, compared to 47% for McNeely.

“It’s true, you know, that we’ve rubbed each other the wrong way,” said McNeely.

“We have to work together to get things done for the people in Orleans.

That’s what I want to do,” he said, before going on stage with his family to make a victory speech.

“Tonight we gave Mr. McNeely a good run for his money,” said Lister, at the Royal Oak pub.

And McNeely knows how to put on the boxing gloves: In 2007, McNeely defeated PC Graham Fox by almost 9,000 votes, his second win against the Conservatives after unseating Tory incumbent Brian Coburn in 2003.

Looking ahead, McNeely says jobs are a priority.

“I think that we have to look at this problem of jobs leaving Orleans,” he said, referring to the relocation of the RCMP to Barrhaven and DND leaving for Kanata.

“This is a new day. I will be magnanimous in my victory. I want to work with everyone in Orleans, especially the chamber of commerce.”

Health care is one of the Liberals’ greatest achievements locally, McNeely said, listing the Montfort hospital and the Orleans Family Health Hub, which is slated to open in 2013.

More than 20,000 Orleans residents are expected to use the clinic.

As for McNeely’s other competitors, it wasn’t much of a race.

The NDP’s Douglas McKercher came in third with about 11% while Tanya Gutmanis finished fourth for the Green Party with 2%.

Twitter: @ottawasunkroche

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