Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock voters are seeing blue with a tinge of red after Monday’s federal election.
They convincingly re-elected Conservative incumbent Jamie Schmale, who garnered 49.2 per cent of the vote. His nearest competitor was the Liberals’ Judi Forbes, whose party will form a minority government when Parliament resumes. Forbes had 25.9 per cent of the vote followed by the NDP’s Barbara Doyle (14.7 per cent); Green Elizabeth Fraser (8.3 per cent) and the PPC’s Gene Balfour (1.9 per cent).
“It just means that the parties will have to work together to keep Parliament going … and the confidence of the House,” Schmale said at the Cat and Fiddle in Lindsay Monday night.
He gathered with supporters to watch the election results on CBC taking to the stage to speak to party faithful when it became apparent he had been re-elected, although his party fell short on the national stage.
Later, he told The Highlander, “any piece of legislation now is going to have multi-party support. In the last Parliament, there were lots of pieces of legislation that got two, three, four party support, it’s not unusual.”
He said the Liberals will have to be careful with confidence votes, such as the Speech from the Throne and the budget. However, he does not anticipate those being torpedoed since the public does not have an appetite for another election following a string of federal, provincial and municipal elections.
“It will be a lot of give and take and we will see who the dance partners are at the end of the day … there are pros and cons to minority parliaments for sure … but Canadians expect us to work together and that’s what we hope to do.”
Forbes told The Highlander, “I’m delighted that the Liberals will be forming the next government. We know that we need a progressive government in this country to help move forward a lot of the great initiatives the Liberals have done over the last four years.”
She said she was personally disappointed she “won’t be the champion and the voice for HKLB. I actually believed that this riding deserved to have a voice with the government that is in power.”
However, she said in adding up the Liberal, NDP and Green support (a combined 48.9 per cent) “we do have a very progressive riding … so that to me is heart-warming. I believe that this riding really believes that we need to move forward in a progressive way.”
Doyle told The Highlander, “Everybody says this riding will only ever stay blue – so what’s the point, right? But we want change so we fight.
SUBHEAD: Affordability resonated with voters
“It just means we have a lot more work to do. Really, we know that we need improvements in this area and the Conservatives are not the ones to do it. So, we’re going to keep holding them accountable, keep fighting them on a municipal level, on a provincial level, a federal level, every level until we get everything the people in this riding need.”
The Green Party nearly doubled its vote from the last election, finishing with 8.3 per cent compared to 2015’s 3.99 per cent.
Candidate Elizabeth Fraser said it was higher than she was expecting and it “kind of warms my heart the response the Green Party has had in this riding.”
For her personally, as a Carleton University student running in a federal election, she said it was “very challenging” and there were some rough patches but “overall it was a really positive experience.”
She said she would consider running again in future.
As for the party taking three seats – its most ever – she wishes they’d done better since they had a strong platform, candidates and campaign.
“There’s only so much you can do. I’m actually really excited there will be minority government I am looking forward to it.”
Schmale said he thought the party platform of affordability resonated with HKLB voters. “It worked well at the doors here. People’s heads started nodding and the pain was real.”
The second-term MP said despite the riding being a Conservative stronghold, he and his team took nothing for granted. He said they knocked on doors and made phone calls.
“The last four years as the MP, I tried to get out to as many events as possible, making myself as visible, as accessible, as possible and I think that mattered. That way I was able to take the concerns that I was hearing on the ground to Ottawa and fight for people there.”
He said it’s a formula he will repeat, as well as “being the people’s voice in Ottawa, not the other way around. Not being Ottawa’s voice to the people and so I think that is something that is very important.”
Asked how long he sees himself in office, Schmale replied, “I hope to keep doing it as long as the people want me to serve. I guess we’ll re-evaluate eventually, but right now it’s a great job. I love what I do. It’s an honour to serve.