By Mike Baker, with files from Sam Gillett
Conservative Jamie Schmale has secured a third term as Member of Parliament for Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock on a night that brought very little in the way of change – both locally, and across the nation.
Schmale recieved 33,826 votes – good enough for 52.6 per cent of the local vote. His closest contender, Liberal Judi Forbes, drew 14,497 votes (22.5 per cent), while NDP candidate Zac Miller had 9,237 votes (14.4 per cent).
Rounding things out locally, People’s Party of Canada candidate Alison Davidson put on a strong showing – securing 4,645 votes (7.2 per cent) – with Green Party candidate Angel Godsoe receiving 1647 votes, and Libertarian Gene Balfour getting 444 votes.
Both Godsoe and Balfour were present at Schmale’s election night party, held at the Cat and Fiddle pub in Lindsay. Around 70 people were on hand when, at approximately 10:30 p.m., it was declared that Schmale had done enough to secure another term in Ottawa.
“This was one heck of a campaign. It was a very challenging campaign due to the fact we [are] in a fourth wave of a pandemic – there were a lot of health restrictions we had to overcome, and different ways to accommodate volunteers, but we got over that,” Schmale informed The Highlander, stating he and his team knocked on more than 10,000 doors across the riding over the course of the condensed five-week campaign.
He said he felt humbled to have been elected for a third term, and vowed to work diligently and effectively on a number of issues he believes are important to the Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock riding, referencing, in particular, the need for improved high-speed internet in some of our more rural areas.
In addressing issues here in Haliburton County, Schmale said the federal government needed to do a better job of helping small businesses get back on track after a tough 18 month period.
“We need to make sure our main streets are strong, and get people back to work … It’s no secret that, in Haliburton County, there were many employers that couldn’t find anyone to work[this summer], and that’s a concern – especially when businesses in Haliburton County have a very short window to make enough money to keep them going through the winter,” Schmale said. “So we need to make sure that there are the bodies and policies in place that actually encourage people, where it’s safe and responsible to do so, to get back to work. Otherwise, our small businesses won’t be here much longer.”
While it was a big win for the Conservatives here in HKLB, there was disappointment at the national level, with many media sources declaring another Liberal minority government. It’s predicted the Liberals will secure 158 seats – 13 shy of the total needed for a majority government. The Conservatives are tipped to serve as the Official Opposition, with 119 seats. The Bloc are projected to win 34 seats, the NDPs 25 seats, and the Green Party two seats.
“The fact that we ended up with the exact same results, plus or minus a few seats here and there, is unfortunate – especially at a cost of $610 million,” Schmale said.
Forbes was the only other local candidate to hold an official gathering on election night, pitching up at the Lindsay Golf and Country Club. Approximately 25 supporters joined her on the night.
Reflecting on the results, Forbes indicated she wasn’t surprised to see Schmale secure another term in office.
“This is a conservative riding. I’m disappointed, of course, that we didn’t gather more [support] here,” Forbes said. “I’m always hopeful that more progressive people will move into this riding, but apparently that wasn’t to be in this election.”
Forbes did take some solace from the fact that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Liberal Party were set to win a third term in power.
“I am delighted that a Liberal power is in government, because there are so many great things that they’re doing, so many great initiatives that we want to keep pushing forward,” Forbes said.
When speaking with The Highlander briefly late on in the evening, Forbes praised her campaign team and thanked her thousands of supporters here in HKLB, urging local Liberal voters in the region to remain optimistic in the face of another disappointing result.
“Let’s keep being hopeful. Let’s keep working hard. Someday we will take this riding,” Forbes said.
For more 2021 federal election reaction, check out this week’s edition of The Highlander, coming out on Thursday