By Fred Groves
Monday night’s, Sept. 20 federal election once again turned out to be bittersweet for Conservative Jamie Schmale.
Cruising to another victory, the Member of Parliament will head back to Ottawa where he will once again represent the 113,956 residents of Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock. And once again, he will sit in the House of Commons as a member of the official opposition.
“I am honoured and humbled that people of this riding continue to put their faith in me. I have tried over the past six years to be as approachable as possible,” he said from his celebratory party in Lindsay.
Schmale received 33,826 votes, 52.6 percent which is an increase of about 1,500 from 2019. Liberal Judi Forbes was second again, this time with 14,497 followed in third by the NDP candidate Zac Miller at 9,237. Rounding out the six-person race were Alison Donaldson of the People’s Party of Canada, 4,645; Green Party Angel Godsoe, 1,647; and Libertarian Gene Balfour with 444. Of the 261 of 262 polls reporting, 64,296 of the registered 102,554 electors cast a ballot which equates to 62.69 per cent.
“I think there was a lot of talent for the voters to choose from. Here in Lindsay we celebrated with candidates from other parties,” said Schmale.
He went on to say that it is a time to celebrate, regardless of what political party a candidate represents, and admitted that a couple of his opponents even went to congratulate him in person.
“We may differ on certain things but at the end of the day we want a Canada that is safe and prosper.”
Schmale was first elected in 2015 and again in 2019. Over the past two years he has been involved in several key committees in Ottawa including Natural Resources and Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Person with Disabilities. Recently he has lofted himself to be the vice-chair of the Indigenous and Northern Affairs Committee.
“I’ve met some amazing people across the country with legitimate concerns,” said Schmale.
Locally those issues include wifi and cellphone connectivity, transportation and housing. He acknowledged the labour shortage in Haliburton County and says that is something that has to be addressed in the very near future.
Nationally the Liberals will form another minority government, despite not taking the popular vote as the Conservatives had 34 per cent of the overall total compared to 32 per cent for the Liberals. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will lead 158 seats while the opposing Conservatives are at 119, Bloc Quebecois 34, New Democratic Party 25, and the Green Party, 2.
“I think in any voter system there are pros and cons. Each race produces a winner and that’s the on going challenge we have as a party,” said Schmale of the fact that his party had more support overall, but not as many seats and therefore will not have the opportunity to govern.
He went on to say that Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole reached out to as many new voters as possible and that despite having a good platform could not get the party’s point of view out to the voters because the Liberals had shut down parliament and there was no opportunity to debate the numerous contentious issues.
“Obviously we went into the race at a bit of a disadvantage. Justin Trudeau had a good eight months to throw money at anyone who walked by,” said Schmale.
For Forbes and the Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock Liberals, it’s runner-up status for the second consecutive federal election. The local Liberal candidate refers to it as getting the silver medal.
She thanked her campaign team, especially young supporters, and said, “I thanked them for all their hard work. So much goes into putting together a solid campaign.”
A 36-day campaign, an election just two years on the heels of the last one, and a price tag of $650 million, along with the fourth wave of the pandemic were all concerns that voters had to deal with. For Forbes, she admitted early in the week that this is a Conservative stronghold, and it could take a few more elections before the gap between the two dominant parties in this part of the country is narrowed.
“Across Canada, I’m disappointed we did not eke out a majority government. People listened to the negative instead of all the good things the Liberals did.”
And as far as her political future is concerned, Forbes, a new grandmother, admits that it’s time to step aside.
“I am definitely going to take a break. The elections have been close together. I am going to spend time with family and friends and consider what is next.”
Reached at his home in Ponypool Monday morning, and even before any of the results came in, NDP candidate Zac Miller said that he too, will be taking a break from the political arena and instead focusing on continuing his education.
“I don’t think I will run again anytime soon,” he said.