Dalton McGuinty heads back to work today with a minority government and some empty seats to fill around his cabinet table.
Four Liberal cabinet ministers were defeated in Thursday’s election and others managed to hang on by the skin of their teeth.
But there were also some key victories for Liberal incumbents in ridings where the tea leaves had predicted them to go down to defeat.
Among the big names to fall was Environment Minister John Wilkinson. Mr. Wilkinson, who was defeated by a Conservative in the riding of Perth-Wellington, had been handed the unenviable task of selling the public on the harmonized sales tax when he was Revenue Minister and may have paid for that service.
Like Mr. Wilkinson, Education Minister Leona Dombrowsky lost her riding of Prince Edward-Hastings to a Conservative. She was first elected in 1999 and had held several cabinet portfolios over the course of her political career. She was defeated by Todd Smith, a local radio station news director.
In Huron-Bruce, Agriculture Minister Carol Mitchell went down to early defeat at the hands of Conservative candidate Lisa Thompson, a farmer and general manager of the Ontario Dairy Goat Co-op.
And on Hamilton Mountain, where Liberals and New Democrats are always fighting each other for the win, Revenue Minister Sophia Aggelonitis gave up her seat to NDP candidate Monique Taylor, an assistant to Hamilton city councillor Scott Duvall.
Across the province, the Liberals lost to both New Democrats and Conservatives. Most of the ground that was ceded by in the southwest and in the north.
In Temiskaming-Cochrane, for instance, New Democrat John Vanthof, a former president of the Temiskaming Federation of Agriculture, defeated Liberal Denis Bonin, who ran after David Ramsey, an eight-year MP, retired.
In Nipissing, where the Liberal incumbent did not run, North Bay Mayor Victor Fedeli enjoyed an easy victory over Liberal candidate Catherine Whiting.
And in the Toronto riding of Davenport, New Democrat Jonah Schein won a squeaker over Liberal candidate Cristina Martins. The riding had been Liberal since it was created in 1999.
But the Liberals could savour some wins among ridings they manage to hold.
In York South-Weston, Liberal incumbent Laura Albanese fended off New Democrat Paul Ferreira for the second time in as many elections. Like last time, it was a close race to the end.
In Pickering-Scarborough East, there had been much speculation that the PCs would gain ground with their candidate Kevin Gaudet, the former federal and Ontario director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. But Tracy MacCharles, the Liberal, had relatively easy win.
And in the Toronto riding of Don Valley West, pundits had predicted that Transportation Minister Kathleen Wynne would have a tough time against Conservative candidate Andrea Mandel-Campbell, a BNN anchor. But Ms. Wynne ended up taking almost twice the PC’s star candidate.