MP Mayes heads back to Ottawa
A swath of blue spread across Canada Monday but the electoral pallet also includes more than a hint of orange.
A major shift took place Monday, as the Conservatives handily won a majority government and the NDP claimed official opposition status. The Liberals were relegated to third place nationally while the Bloc Quebecois was virtually wiped off the map.
“It will be great to see what we can do with a majority to serve Canadians,” said Colin Mayes, who was handed a third term as Tory MP for Okanagan-Shuswap.
Mayes topped the local polls with 31,443 votes (55.4 per cent). That was followed by Nikki Inouye of the NDP at 14,961 (26.4 per cent), Green Greig Crockett at 6,063 (10.7 per cent) and Liberal Janna Francis at 4,246 (7.5 per cent).
Mayes is convinced voters were tired of the instability that came with minority rule.
“People who weren’t necessarily Conservative were supporting me because they wanted to give Stephen Harper a chance,” he said.
“We must continue with our economic action plan. There are more things we’d like to do with innovation and technology.”
Mayes’ share of the votes climbed from the 2008 election, but he insists his duties aren’t partisan.
“Whether you are Conservative, Green, NDP or Liberal, I serve you all. Everyone is welcome in my office,” he said.
Mayes expects the NDP will face challenges after being thrust into official opposition.
“You can’t just criticize everything. They have some things to do to prove themselves,” he said.
Inouye has no regrets about her inaugural foray into politics.
“I wasn’t really sure what to expect on my first campaign,” she said.
“I’m a winner because of the education and knowledge I’ve learned.”
Despite not topping the polls here, Inouye says Monday was an overwhelming success for the NDP as it has moved from the fourth largest party in the House of Commons to second.
“I’ve never been so happy to be an NDP member. This experience has been one of the most positive of my life,” she said.
“The NDP won a historic number of seats nationally.”
Inouye believes there is a need for the actions of the Conservative government and Mayes to be scrutinized.
“I heard a lot in the riding that a lot of people are fed up with Colin Mayes, a lot more so this time,” she said.
Local Greens were disappointed with their third-place finish.
“We know the local count of voters underestimates Green support,” said Crockett.
“People are sympathetic to the Green message but they felt they had to vote elsewhere for strategic purposes.”
If there was a bright spot, it was the first Green candidate being elected to Parliament — leader Elizabeth May.
“We will have to see how that grows,” said Crockett.
Crockett says he is concerned about what a Harper majority government will do, and he points out the Conservatives got 39.6 per cent of the popular vote nationally.
“It means a majority of people did not support all of those seats (167). We need to do something about our democracy,” he said.
Monday’s outcome was emotional for Francis.
“We had a great campaign and great supporters. We feel good about what we did here,” she said.
“There is a strong core that believes in the Liberal Party. We’re sad and hurting but we will live to fight another day.”
Francis says local Liberals are devastated by the loss experienced by the national party.
“People weren’t connecting with Michael Ignatieff and two years of (Conservative) attack ads didn’t help,” she said.
Francis is confident the Liberals can rebuild.
“We have to ask the difficult questions. Are we relevant? Are the Liberal values really important? This has to be from the grassroots. We have to be on the ground.”
Voter turnout in Okanagan-Shuswap was 62.5 per cent.