Now that the dust has settled, voters have gone to the polls, the ballots have been counted, and the winners declared, this is a good time to review the federal election campaign.
On Monday night, Canadians returned Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals to power, albeit with fewer seats and with a minority government. They also voted for more Conservatives, fewer New Democrats, more Bloc Quebecois MPs, and will be sending only three Green Party candidates to Ottawa.
This should make for an interesting political dynamic in the House of Commons; the only question now is how long this minority government will last?
In the Strait area, both federal ridings went to the Liberals. In Cape Breton-Canso, Mike Kelloway overcame an early deficit behind Conservative candidate Alfie MacLeod to secure a 1,619 vote victory. Of note in this riding – taking in Richmond and Inverness counties, most of Guysborough County, and the eastern part of Antigonish County – is that the NDP, Green Party, People’s Party of Canada, the independent candidate and National Citizens Alliance Party combined came away with only 27.3 per cent of the total vote.
Just four years ago, former Liberal MP Rodger Cuzner took the riding with a massive majority, netting an impressive 32,163 votes as his NDP, Conservative and Green opposition tallied a combined 11,074 votes.
In Central Nova – which takes in the central and western part of Antigonish County, as well as the Town of Antigonish – Liberal Sean Fraser led for the entire evening, easily dispatching Conservative candidate George Canyon by 7,517 votes. The fact the Conservatives finished with a mere 29.6 per cent of the vote in a riding once held by former cabinet minister Peter MacKay, was particularly noteworthy.
In the 2015 general election, Fraser garnered 25,909 votes, compared to 11,418 for the Conservatives, 4,532 for the NDP, and the Greens received 1,834 votes. While the Conservatives should be disappointed and deserved criticism for their decision to parachute a candidate into the riding, the Liberals did lose 5,191 votes.
In general, it was a hotly contested election, both federally and in the Strait area, with some ugly moments, more policy discussion than politicians have been given credit for, and some examples that Canadian democracy is not broken, but does require protection.
Federally, this election did venture into unpleasant territory, and at times, became more of a clash of personalities, rather than an ideological disagreement. There were accusations thrown around, old photos and personal secrets arose, but there were also times when the leaders did substantially discuss issues, some parties did provide comprehensive, costed plans, and for the most part, voters were provided with as much information as they were willing to consume.
The only bugaboo, is how much of that information provided to voters was factual, confirmed and data driven, and how much was fake news and propaganda. That will be something for Elections Canada officials and others tasked with protecting our democracy to hash out in the coming months.
Locally, there was some dirt thrown around public during debates, but on the whole, it was a relatively clean campaign, especially compared with others across the country where vandalism, protests and threats of violence occurred.
Make no mistake, the races in Cape Breton-Canso and Central Nova were highly competitive. Candidates worked hard, debated loudly, argued strenuously, but they kept things civil.
In Central Nova, there was palpable tension between Fraser and Canyon, but the conflict did not spill beyond political discourse, and strongly worded letters and speeches.
Cape Breton-Canso was a tamer affair, aside from some disruptions at debates aimed at certain candidates, some fiery exchanges between Kelloway and independent candidate Michelle Dockrill, the discourse was controlled.
And Monday’s results reflect this hard-fought tone, as even in defeat, unsuccessful candidates were gracious, and the winners kind.
Without a doubt, this was an election that will be remembered, and hopefully, remembered for the right reasons.