Cornwall - May. 2, 2011 - The 2011 Federal Election is now over and the results will forever form part of Canadian history. As we look back upon this campaign, let us first take time to reflect and thank the five local candidates who offered up themselves and their talents in the name of public service.
For the candidates, election campaigns are filled with long days and short nights, countless events to attend, many speeches to prepare/deliver and lots of voters to meet and discuss issues with. Many will agree with you, many will disagree with you and that is the great part of our Canadian democracy. We are fortunate to live in such a great country that allows all of us to freely discuss the issues and exchange views on the spectrum of ideologies.
I have had the privilege to have my name on three municipal ballots and one provincial ballot and I remember each campaign with fondness. Conservative Guy Lauzon and Liberal Bernadette Clement have campaign experience, while NDP Mario Leclerc, Green Party Wyatt Walsh and Libertarian James Neal Donnelly ran for the very first time in 2011. I am sure it was a great personal experience for each of them and one that they will cherish forever. As voters in the riding, we thank them for their willingness to serve our wonderful country.
Just three days ago, I wrote a column suggesting that there would be very few surprises on election night, in that I felt that we were headed for a Conservative Minority. I also wrote that I anticipated a Lauzon win in SDSG, with Clement finishing second followed by Leclerc, Walsh and Donnelly. Lastly, I suggested that Clement would narrow the gap between the Liberals and Conservatives from the 2008 election.
Turns out, Lauzon’s victory was the easiest to predict. The destruction of Michael Ignatieff’s Liberal party coupled with the destruction of Gilles Duceppe’s Bloc Quebecois enabled Stephen Harper’s Conservatives to form a majority government with over 165 seats.
The NDP success was also visible in the riding of Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry as Leclerc surprised many people by finishing a very close third behind Clement. As of posting time, Leclerc was only 195 votes behind Clement.
In 2008, Lauzon defeated Liberal challenger Denis Sabourin by 17,292 votes. Tonight, Lauzon received close to 21,000 more votes than that of his nearest challenger, giving him his largest margin of victory yet. Lauzon becomes the first Conservative to win the Federal seat in this area over four consecutive elections.
Elections Canada reported that the voter turnout in SDSG was just around 60%.
It was a very difficult night for Liberals across this country because for the first time in the history of Canada, they will form neither the government nor the official opposition. The 2011 election will be remembered as the Liberals worst ever election, both in seats and in vote count. The results turned out to be even worse than the worst expectations and fears that the Liberals had envisioned for this election.
Ignatieff gave an extremely heartfelt and classy concession speech tonight. “I accept my responsibility for what has occurred,” said Ignatieff. "I am very proud of what we tried to do. We tried to run an open campaign. It was an unforgettable experience for me.”
The Liberal Leader went on to say “Defeat is a teacher. I have learned more in my life from my own personal defeats than the victories I have achieved. I will play any part that the party wishes me to play as we go forward to rebuild, to renew, to reform the vital centre of Canadian politics. I take all of the responsibility for what didn’t work but all the credit for what did goes to my campaign team.”
This was the best and most genuine performance voters have seen from Ignatieff throughout this campaign. The Liberal Leader lost his own riding of Etobicoke-Lakeshore but did make it clear that he would remain on as Leader for as long as the party wants him to stay.
I am sure I share the same sentiment as many Canadians when I say that I am not sorry to see the substantial fall of the Bloc Quebecois. The few seats that they did win is not enough for them to maintain official party status in the House of Commons. Party Leader Gilles Duceppe was also defeated in his own riding of Laurier-Sainte-Marie and announced that he is leaving his position as Leader.
Congratulations to Green Party Leader Elizabeth May who won the first seat ever for the Greens. She defeated Conservative Cabinet Minister Gary Lunn in the BC riding of Saanich-Gulf Islands. “We are 308 Members of Parliament and we are elected to serve the people of Canada and not any one political ideology,” stated May during her victory speech.
At the dissolution of the 40th Parliament, Jack Layton’s New Democratic Party held 36 seats nationwide. Tonight, they were elected in 105 ridings in Canada. Their success came primarily at the expense of the Bloc and to a lesser extent the Liberals. The most the party had ever held previously was 43 seats.
“Tonight, Canadians voted for public healthcare, to strengthen retirement security, to lift every senior out of poverty, to help families make ends meet, to grow our economy with new jobs and opportunities and you voted to end the same old debates and political games,” said Layton.
In the end, I wasn’t the only one in this country who was surprised by the results. Most political pundits were calling for a Conservative minority and now Harper will not face re-election until October 2015. In SDSG, one candidate was quoted as saying that he thought he could earn as much as 18% of the vote and in the end he got just over 2%.
This election seemed to be fairly mundane and predictable for the first 25 days, but many unexpected twists and turns occurred in the final week or so.