By Stephen Vance, Editor
As the votes were counted and the results began flashing across the television screen, nobody was likely to be surprised that Larry Miller, the Conservative incumbent candidate for the riding of Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound collected more votes than his opponents returning him to Ottawa for another term.
What did come as a surprise, was the strong second place showing of NDP candidate Karen Gventer who though she finished well behind Miller who collected nearly 29,000 votes, capturing 56 percent of the riding’s ballots, ended the night nearly 1,000 votes ahead of Liberal candidate Kimberley Love who many had pegged as the lone threat to unseat Miller.
In a riding that had the good fortune to have four quality candidates in the race, the final result was certainly stunning and unexpected.
Gventer rode the wave of popularity that developed for her party during the final days of the 35 day campaign, while Love paid the price for a Liberal campaign that began with much promise but quickly saw the wheels fall off in the early days of the race.
While the national campaign was at times nasty featuring attack ads and ruthless campaign tactics on all sides, the candidates in the BGOS riding managed to keep it civil if not decidedly friendly, but clearly the national campaigns impacted the results in our rural riding.
We wake up this morning with a Conservative led majority government. A majority that is stronger even than what political pundits were suggesting would be the outcome, and an Official Opposition that for the first time in our nation’s history will be led by the NDP under the leadership of Jack Layton.
It was an election that saw Quebec’s Bloc Quebecois essentially destroyed falling to just four seats in the House of Commons where they previously held a respectable 49. The Liberals who in 2008 were disappointed with the 77 seats that they captured during that campaign can only look on in disbelief at the 34 seats they won last night.
Devastating results for both the Bloc and the Liberals, but not for the NDP who saw their caucus swell from just 37 members in 2008 to 102 in last night’s election. A remarkable accomplishment by anyone’s standard.
The Green Party which in recent elections had finished well in BGOS, capturing second spot in 2008, fell to dead last in the riding receiving just 10 percent of the vote compared to 27 percent three years ago. This on a night when the Green’s finally managed to get their first member of parliament elected with party leader Elizabeth May beating out the Conservative incumbent candidate in her British Columbia riding.
But while the Green’s may have been celebrating their historic achievement, it wasn’t all good news for them as they saw their share of the national vote fall from a promising 6.8 percent in 2008 to a disappointing 3.9 percent this time around.
As the media and political pundits sift through the results of this election over the coming days and weeks, opinions will be tossed about on everything from how the NDP managed to generate a last minute groundswell of support, to how the Liberals have fallen to the point that they appear to have become little more than a regional party finding nearly all of their support in the eastern part of the country.
One thing that will be interesting to learn as the numbers are interpreted is who actually voted, and who decided to stay home.
Prior to the election many experts speculated that the young vote had been engaged and mobilized and that participation would benefit the Greens and the NDP. Clearly the NDP found a huge new pool of support from somewhere, however voter turnout in this election was still disappointingly low, so if the youth vote did find their way to the polls, then an awful lot of people who have voted previously, for some reason decided to take a pass on this election.
Voter turnout nationally is being reported by Elections Canada as having been slightly more than 61 percent in this election which is an improvement over the 58.8 percent turnout in 2008; a record low in Canadian federal elections. In Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound 61.8 percent of eligible voters cast ballots.
The political landscape has changed in our nation, and it will most certainly be interesting to see how it will play out.