I was very proud to be a part of the team that helped send Bob Chiarelli back to Queen's Park.
Much has been made about the relative closeness of the race, but from my perspective, the end result was basically on track. While I must admit the PC's did a better job of GOTV then I thought they would do, us getting 43% of the vote is basically what we had on track, somewhere in the low to mid 40's. Considering the by-election as a whole only had 33% turnout, us getting over 50% of Liberal votes from the last election out is a testament to the strength of the campaign. In a swing riding like OW-N, it is undoubtedly true that the possibility did exist that we could lose the seat, unless we ran a strong campaign. Lo and behold, we ran a good solid positive campaign (unlike the constant attacks of the Beth Graham campaign, I heard more then a few "Toronto Liberal" jokes at the victory party)
In issue I do have to mention in regards to turnout was accessibility issues. The poll I was working on to close out the night had horrible turnout, only 27 voters, in large part because the polling station was not accessible. The poll was largely made up of middle to lower income voters, and lots of new Canadians, so it was natural Liberal territory (indeed, out of the 27 votes, 24 were for Bob, Beth Graham was totally shut out of the poll, with second place going to the "legendary" John Turmel with 2 votes!) but the polling station was at least a 15 minute walk away, so the whole process of going to the station, getting registered (with so many new Canadians and first time voters, a lot wouldn't have been on the voters list), voting, and getting back home could have easily taken 45 minutes, which is simply unacceptable, and was probably a big turn off for many voters in this poll. I spoke with Glen Murray at the victory party, who had a similar experience, saying he was at a largely seniors poll that had the polling station 6 blocks away, and similarly saw terrible turnout. While obviously not going to make any crazy allegation of Elections Ontario being biased (after all, I'm not a federal Conservative) for the next time around, they must do a better job of ensuring all voters have an accessible vote.
Reading the reaction of various Tories, it's also amusing the read the subtext that they might have won had Beth Graham not have been a bad candidate, apparently she is thinking about running again, I say more power to her.
Ultimately, a good hard campaign that returned a Liberal victory in a swing riding (also interesting to see the Tories start to call it a "safe Liberal seat" post-facto when they were hyping it up as a swing riding they could win at the start of the campaign) that demonstrates the PC strategy of hyperfocusing on the HST (which came up maybe twice on the doors I knocked on) and negative attacks without any policy vision is still a non-starter.