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Volume 91, Issue 41

Tuesday, November 11, 1997



Haskett comes out for victory party

©Tom Baumgartner/Gazette
I'M BAAAACK! Dianne Haskett receives cheers at the Hellenic Centre as the results come in. Below, Grant Hopcroft ponders the voters' decision yesterday at Centennial Hall


By Sandra Dimitrakopoulos and Sara Marett
Gazette Staff

The winner of the "hare and tortoise" race for London's next mayor was determined early last night as incumbent Dianne Haskett sped ahead of Grant Hopcroft to prove you don't have to physically campaign to win an election in London.

Haskett, in her first public appearance since her three-week absence as London's mayor, greeted supporters at the Hellenic Centre to chants of "A tisket, a tasket – we told you it would be Haskett."

Haskett began by thanking God for the strength and courage to survive some "very dark days." After thanking her supporters she was quick to address her three-week disappearance. "In my silence I have come face to face with what I am – with what I have done well and what I have not done well – and I have seen things in my character that are not as they should have been," she said.

Haskett expressed her disgust with the personal attacks and media treatment during her three-week absence. The unrelenting assault by the media must stop and the mean-spirited attacks coming from many sectors of the community must cease, she said.

"I have been horrified at some of the gay-bashing that has recently gone on, because I care very much for Londoners who are gay or lesbian." Haskett added she will meet with Richard Hudler of the Homophile Association of London Ontario, who filed a complaint to the Human Rights Commission when Haskett would not proclaim a gay pride week for the city, resulting in the tribunal finding her actions discriminatory.

Hudler said he looks forward to trying to work with Haskett as it is something she promised. Dan Wilson of HALO's political action committee said he was not surprised by the election results, but by the margin of Haskett's victory. "We will be there to make sure she follows through," he added.

Haskett said she considered her win a precious gift and that although her voters did not have to stick with her they did. "When I walked out, I knew I may be taking my job with me forever, but I had to take that chance."

At Centennial Hall, as the winners began to gather, Grant Hopcroft appeared accompanied by dedicated group of followers who were determined not to let him feel defeated by his landslide loss to Haskett.

"I have no regrets other than the results," Hopcroft said. The amount of support felt from the community during his campaign left Hopcroft puzzled with the election outcome, but he added he still felt a strong belief in the electoral process.

The decision to spend more time with the family and speculating on the outcome of the results was noted by Hopcroft as his next main objective in light of the results.

"I could speculate as to what was behind people's votes but if it was the gay issue which pushed the vote, this could show there is a very disturbing trend in the community."

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Copyright © The Gazette 1997