Poised to represent the riding of the North Okanagan-Shuswap for another four years, incumbent Mel Arnold maintains the snap federal election was a waste of money.
As of 10 p.m. on the night of the Sept. 20 federal election, with 245 of the 308 polls having reported, Elections Canada had Arnold winning the riding. Preliminary results showed Arnold with 23,690 votes, for 46.3 per cent of the vote. NDP candidate Ron Johnston followed with 10,038 votes (19.6 per cent), then Liberal candidate Shelley Desautels with 9,584 votes (18.7 per cent), People’s Party candidate Kyle Delfing with 4,956 votes (9.7 per cent) and Green Party candidate Andrea Gunner with 2,871 (5.7 per cent).
This will be the third federal election win for Arnold in the riding.
Preliminary results for the country showed another Liberal minority government was likely.
Watching the results roll in alongside his wife Linda and supporters, Arnold said he was happy with his campaign, and thanked voters for having confidence in him, adding he looked forward to representing the riding.
However, Arnold was not impressed with the timing of the snap election, saying it shouldn’t have been called during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“$610 million for really no change across the country,” said Arnold. “We need to get our finances back on track, get the country back to work, and start reducing some of the debt we’ve been incurring over the last six years now under the federal government.
“We’ve got a lot of mail-in ballots to be counted across the country, and it may take a few days to see how this all sorts its way out. It certainly looks like a minority government again.”
Arnold thanked his fellow candidates for putting their names forward, along with all who volunteered to support their campaigns.
“It’s not an easy decision to put your name forward, and without the volunteers, we wouldn’t be able to do it as candidates either.”
Incumbent Mel Arnold’s victory was not a surprise in the perennially Conservative riding.
“This has been a Conservative stronghold for decades,” commented Johnston. “But we had a pretty strong showing. We improved on our 2019 results.”
Johnston spent the day with his family and there was an NDP Zoom watch party after the polls closed.
“I have to thank my family for the support they have given me, as well as the voters, the supporters, the volunteers. And congratulations to Mel.”
Johnston said this, his first campaign, was a learning experience, and that he would consider running again, whether it’s in another two, or four years.
Desautels said she too anticipated Arnold’s win.
“We knew coming into this it was going to be a tough one anyway and it was my first time coming in, it was really more my introduction. It was super difficult trying to be able to get out into the public eye without actually being able to do events and stuff. So we came into a difficult situation at a difficult time. I think we did fantastic as a campaign.”
Being her first foray into politics, Desautels said nothing was particularly unexpected. However, the degree of animosity did surprise her.
“I guess one of the things a lot of campaigns found was just that amount of anger, across Canada, was more than we’ve seen in other elections.”
Undeterred, she said she will definitely be in the running next time.
Desautels attributed the better showing by the NDP to leader Jagmeet Singh’s good showing throughout the campaign.
“It seems like a lot of people have drawn a line in the sand and are coming over to the purple side,” said Delfing.
“All in all, it’s a great success, whatever happens tonight happens. And going forward, we’ll be here and we’ll continue.”
Despite the preliminary results, Delfing was pleased with how his campaign went and the opportunity it provided to meet with people.
Gunner too was unimpressed with the timing of the election, saying if it hadn’t been called amidst a global pandemic she would have conducted her campaign differently.
“COVID reality meant a lot of what I was doing was virtual, meeting people virtually and that is not ideal,” said Gunner. “So I would really like it if the prime minister doesn’t call an election in the middle of a global pandemic.”
Gunner was impressed, however, that it appeared three other Green candidates will be making their way to Parliament.
“That’s really great. I knew this riding was a longshot but I gave it a darn good ol’ college try.”
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