By Chad Ingram
Canadians awoke to a substantively different country Tuesday than they had Monday, the country’s Conservative majority government replaced by a Liberal one and the man who’d been Prime Minister for nearly a decade decisively stripped of that title.
But while a red wave that presented itself in Atlantic Canada early in the night swept towards the Pacific, voters in Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock decided their riding would remain blue.
First, congratulations to new MP Jamie Schmale, who pounded the proverbial pavement hard for 11 straight weeks.
As most readers are likely aware, Schmale, a former radio journalist, served as executive assistant to MP Barry Devolin for the past 11 years.
I have known him in that capacity and can certainly vouch for his efficiency and work ethic. Any time I left a message for Schmale, I’d be on the phone with him within hours if not minutes, and on the phone with Devolin by the end of the day.
An MP at less than 40 years of age, it’s also clear that Schmale has a great deal of ambition.
Which is good, because he’s going to need it.
Stephen Harper’s 78-day-long election campaign was a massive strategic error, a plan that backfired immensely and proved a fatal mistake.
Not only was the campaign twice as long as Canadians are accustomed to, lending itself to fatigue, but from the beginning, Harper’s campaign was overwhelmingly negative, with persistent assaults on Liberal leader Justin Trudeau and dredging up nasty wedge issues.
The campaign was, frankly, mean and divisive.
Mean and divisive are not Canadian values, something Canadians reminded Harper of in an astonishing way on Monday night.
Perhaps more than Trudeau won the election, Harper lost it, actually driving voters toward the object of his scorn.
The outcome leaves Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock, with its tendency to stick with what it knows, in an unenviable position.
Both our provincial and federal representatives are now Opposition members in Liberal majority governments. At both levels, we are going to spend the next few years across the aisle from influence.
No slight against Schmale or MPP Laurie Scott personally, but we exist in very partisan system where majority governments typically do what they damn well please, thank you very much.
Residents of HKLB have voted themselves into a position where they now have virtually no voice in decision-making in either Queen’s Park or the House of Commons.
What is best for any riding is to have both its representatives in government. Not only does this mean more influence on the legislative process, it often means a greater influx of funding into a riding as well.
Rewind to the years where Devolin was in federally and Rick Johnson was in provincially and there were a lot of big, novelty cheques making their way to HKLB.
Schmale has pointed out that the Liberals have committed to providing some big stimulus funding and hopefully our new MP will be able to get as much of that funding as possible directed into the riding.
Thanks to Schmale, Liberal challenger David Marquis, the NDP’s Mike Perry and Green candidate Bill MacCallum for putting themselves out there during this gruelling election campaign.
It’s not an easy thing to do and HKLB residents had a very strong pack of candidates to choose from.