“My name is Dan Albas and I am proud to be your new member of Parliament for the Okanagan Coquihalla,” the former Penticton city councillor told a fired-up crowd of Tories at the Penticton Golf and Country Club Monday night.
The jubilance that greeted Albas’ first speech as an elected federal representative grew steadily throughout Monday evening as his supporters watched election results pour in, eventually confirming Albas’ crushing 53.6-per-cent win as well as Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s new 167-seat Conservative Party of Canada majority government.
The 34-year-old Albas will now replace retiring Conservative cabinet minister Stockwell Day as the riding’s MP.
“I would like to thank the person most responsible for my being in this position tonight: my wife, Tara,” Albas glowed. “She has supported my involvement in civic affairs and come to appreciate the great good that can be done for communities and families by effective, responsive and well-led government.”
Crediting the work of Conservative volunteers and supporters throughout the riding for his win, Albas also thanked Day and his wife, Valorie, for their leadership and many years of public service.
“When I go to Ottawa, I look forward to making sure your interests are heard and defended and perhaps even rewarded,” Albas said. “More than anything else, I promise to invest my time, my energy and my passion in serving the constituents of this riding.
“My view of government places trust not in any one person or party, but where it belongs, in the people. The responsibility to live up to that trust is also where it belongs in their elected leaders. That special relationship between people and their elected leaders is one I will honour for as long as you will allow me to serve.”
Albas paraphrased the late former U.S. President Ronald Reagan.
“I pledge to balance my willingness to do good in Ottawa with the knowledge that government is never more dangerous than when our desire to have it help us blinds us to its great power to harm us,” Albas said.
“I promise you that when the next parliament convenes I will fight hard; I will fight fair; and I will fight long into the night to advance the Conservative agenda.”
Albas’ nearest competitor New Democrat David Finnis garnered 24.1 per cent of the votes cast, while Liberal John Kidder received 10.9 per cent and Dan Bouchard of the Green Party got 9.4 per cent. Independent conservative Sean Upshaw received 1.6 per cent and independent Dietrich Wittel got 0.3 per cent.
A total of 62.5 per cent of the Okanagan Coquihalla’s 85,117 registered electors voted in the election, with a total of 53,229 ballots cast.
After his speech, Albas pledged to continue to be the same kind of hard-working representative in Parliament that he was in Penticton council chambers, while building on Day’s efforts and successes.
“I’m going to continue that legacy of strong representation by door-knocking, by doing telephone town halls and by putting together a blog to communicate with people throughout the riding,” said Albas.
“(The Conservative caucus) is going to get a team player who understands how to ask tough questions and who is willing to work with people to get things done, because at the end of the day we are all serving the same taxpayer and the people want results.
“It comes down to the basic premise of representation, which is that in Canada we have a very wide and diverse country and we want to entertain a large amount of opinion — and if so, you are going to see people from all different walks of life and different ages and I think that is a good thing because we need to represent all of Canada.”
Nationally the Conservatives took 39.6 per cent of the popular vote for 167 seats, while the New Democratic Party received 30.6 per cent gaining 102 seats; the Liberals captured 18.9 per cent for 24 seats; the Bloc Quebecois 6.1 per cent for four seats and the Green Party 3.9 per cent for one seat.
Albas said the Tories won their majority by talking about issues that resonate with Canadians.
“When I talked to people around the riding, I was hearing the same things,” said Albas. “People liked the direction of the country but they were concerned about jobs for themselves, their children or their grandchildren. They were worried about their pensions. They were worried about safer streets. They wanted to see some changes and they were saying go back and get things done.
“The people have spoken and they have spoken very loudly. They want some stability and they want a strong stable Conservative government. And I am proud to be part of that change.”