Ontario Liberals win third straight term in office

Fri Oct 7, 2011 2:50am EDT
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By Claire Sibonney

TORONTO (Reuters) - Ontario Liberals scored a third straight victory in a provincial election in Canada's economic center on Thursday, but fell one seat short of a majority and will need support from opposition legislators to stay in power.

The Liberals won 53 seats in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario after a late surge in a campaign in which polls showed they started in a weak second place. The election numbers were not yet official and many individual races were very close.

This will be the first minority government in the province since the mid-1980s.

The Progressive Conservatives scooped up 37 seats while the left-leaning New Democrats were ahead in 17.

The Liberals' took most of the seats in urban centers including the financial capital of Toronto, while the Conservatives dominated the province's rural areas.

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, now heading for his third straight term in office, campaigned on a message of a "steady hand at the tiller" in difficult times.

McGuinty highlighted his track record of steering the province, Canada's manufacturing powerhouse, through recession with no major spending cuts.

Ontario, with a population of more than 13 million, is Canada's most populous province. Its export-oriented economy accounts for about 40 percent of the national gross domestic product.   Continued...

<p>Ontario Premier and Liberal leader Dalton McGuinty and his wife Terri arrive at a polling station in Ottawa October 6, 2011. Ontario voters will head to the polls today in a provincial election. REUTERS/Chris Wattie</p>