By Fred Groves
As the results of the 44th federal election began to trickle in Monday night, anxious voters and candidates had to wait a little longer than usual as mail-in ballots were to be counted on Tuesday.
Complete results were not available as of press time.
The 262 polls in Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock officially closed at 9:30 p.m. EDT, the first one reporting in at 10:27 p.m. had incumbent Conservative Jamie Schmale ahead with 68 votes followed by NDP Zac Miller with 31, Liberal Judi Forbes had 24 votes followed by PPC Alison Davidson at 11, Green Party’s with three and Libertarian Gene Belbour with one vote.
And while that is a bit longer to chew on the fingernails in anticipation of who won not only locally in the Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock riding but nationally, the good news is that the number of advance poll votes was way, way up as compared to 2019. Elections Canada reported that this riding had 23,396 votes prior to Monday compared to 15,722 two years ago. Nationally 5.78 million voted in advance polls across the country, up from 4.88 million, or 18.46 percent from 2019.
“I think everyone would like to see an end to this election. If the spread is wide, we will know what the results are,” said incumbent, Conservative candidate Jamie Schmale Monday morning.
Responding to the large increase in advance poll voters, he said, “the advance turnout is a result of people being unhappy with the fact we’re in a campaign during the fourth wave of a pandemic.”
In speaking with the Haliburton County Echo, he said that he was not taking anything for granted and that he would be going to the polls to vote and later was going to spend time with his campaign team making sure to thank them for their loyalty and hard work. Despite Covid-19 he said he was able to knock on 10,000 doors in the riding.
“I have a tradition. I vote on election day and don’t want to disrupt that routine.”
Clearly the favourite to repeat, Schmale knew what the national polls were predicting.
“The only poll that matters is on election day. Knocking on doors, the reception has been very good.”
In 2019 Schmale, who was first elected in 2015 to represent the 140,00 residents of the Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock riding, handidly defeated Liberal Judi Forbes , taking close to 50 percent. His 32,257 count surpassed Forbes’ 26.0 percent of 17,067. Finishing third two years ago was Barbara Doyle of the NDP with 9,676.
Reached at her home in Beaverton Monday morning, Forbes said that she and her Liberal supporters acknowledge that this is a Conservative stronghold and wanted to narrow the gap not only now but for future elections.
“I feel great, it’s a nice day and a lot of people will get out to vote,” said Forbes prior to the polls opening at 9:30 a.m. Voting in the advance polls, she had a busy agenda on decision day which included visiting her 94-year-old mother and making sure others were able to get out and vote.
On Saturday Forbes traveled to Peterborough where Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau was rallying the troops.
“We didn’t have a chance to have a lengthy conversation,” admitted Forbes.
Heading to the wire on Monday, the recent polls, as reported by CBC had the Liberals and the Conservatives in a dead heat – both with around 31 percent. Trudeau’s Liberals were predicted to take 155 seats (170 to form a majority government) while Erin O’Toole and the Conservatives were pegged to take 119 and the NDP, 32 seats.
“I don’t follow the polls, my husband does,” said Forbes. “I just worked as hard as I can. It doesn’t matter what the polls say, I can’t do more than that.”
Numbers in the Province of Ontario were a little different with the Liberals at 38.20 percent, the Conservatives at 31.7 and the NDP who were expected to get 14.1 percent across the nation, sitting at 19.2 percent in Ontario.
“I follow the poll tracker and I think overall it is positive for the NDP. I think we will have a good seat count,” said Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock NDP candidate Zac Miller.
Reached by the Echo and Times Monday morning, Miller was getting ready to go vote near his home in Pontypool and announced that he is going to be putting his political career on hold and work on his Masters’ Degree.
“I don’t think I will run anytime soon,” he said.
Miller finished second with 15,142 votes in the 2018 provincial riding behind incumbent Laurie Scott of the Conservatives and said he was pleased with his campaign during this federal election.
“I think it went by really fast. I think we did the best with what we had.”