Eli on the election

WEST CARLETON – Coun. Eli El-Chantiry doesn’t expect much of a difference for the City of Ottawa federally now that the dust has settled on last Monday’s (Oct. 21) election.

The big difference is the Liberal party now have a minority government, but much of the Ottawa region, and the entire province remained Liberal. Certainly, all of Ottawa remained red although most Ottawa Valley ridings, including our neighbours in Renfrew and Lanark counties voted Conservative.

West Carleton Online spoke to El-Chantiry Tuesday (Oct. 21) in Kinburn where the Ward 5 councillor was hosting a Budget 2020 information session to get his thoughts on what the election may mean for Ottawa and West Carleton.

 “For all of the Ottawa region, nothing has changed for us,” he said. “We’re almost the same as we were prior to last night.”

El-Chantiry said he met with Mayor Jim Watson earlier that day (Oct. 22) to talk about the results and what they may mean for the city.

“The concern is a minority government,” he said. “Does that mean some of the large projects like Phase III of the LRT are going to be reviewed?”

El-Chantiry says the talk from elected Members of Parliament has been positive so far.

“I heard today (Oct. 22) the Environment Minister (Catherine McKenna) will continue her support for the LRT,” he said. “I heard MP Karen McCrimmon talk about it today as well. So, there is a commitment for Stage III of the LRT and we can’t do it without the help of the federal and the provincial government.”

During her post election interview with West Carleton Online, McCrimmon said her Number One priority for West Carleton was high-speed Internet infrastructure.

“That is good news, but we need the details,” El-Chantiry said. “Without federal or provincial funding, you are not going to be able to receive better Internet service. The municipality doesn’t have that kind of funding to support infrastructure. The feds said they would help in the past, but they didn’t give enough money. If you remember, $156 million for five years across Canada. That doesn’t really give you a lot of Internet.”

El-Chantiry says his experience with the MP makes for a positive work environment.

“I am hopeful and I will work with her,” he said. “We have worked in the past together and I will continue to work together to achieve that goal. Next to the roads, in our area, that is the item we hear about the most – Internet service. You have to remember the challenges, the terrain in West Carleton. When I started in 2003 it was about eight or nine per cent that had high-speed Internet service. Now we’re in the 90 per cent range. Now people are asking for bigger and better and faster and that needs more help than what the municipality can do.”

Those who know El-Chantiry, no surprise, know he’s a political junkie. Add that to the rare opportunity to stay at home and not be the focus of a political event, gave El-Chantiry lots of opportunity to watch Election Night unfold and form his own opinion on what the results say about the electorate.

“Obviously the voters want the leaders of the party to start talking to each other,” he said. “If people we’re really supportive of one leader or the other, it would have been a majority. To send them to the house with a minority says that.”

El-Chantiry says, despite what the leaders are saying on TV, it’s impossible to pick a winner from the election – except maybe the Bloc Quebecois.

“I don’t think there’s one party out there that can say ‘tonight, we are a winner’ other than the Bloc,” he said. “Andrew Scheer gained 25 seats, but he didn’t get the most seats. Justin Trudeau’s Liberals got 157 but they didn’t get a majority. The NDP lost 20 members, the Bloc won more that 22 members and the Green got one extra member. What’s the message out there? I think the message is to work together and they have to compromise. I think the Prime Minister said it best, we don’t just have to align with the Opposition Party, we can align with one of the others. That means he’s willing to work with the others.”

Mayor Watson also said the results should be good for the LRT Phase III project.

Watson noted the politicians in the ridings affected the most by the light rail extension are with the governing party, federally in the House of Commons and provincially in the Legislature. This includes the Barrhaven and Kanata-Stittsville areas represented by MPs Chandra Arya and McCrimmon and MPPs Lisa MacLeod and Merilee Fullerton. 

“We went into this election with the stars aligned in those two ridings and those four MPs and MPPs all were supportive of phase three of LRT,” explained Watson. “So, they’ll be good advocates, along with me and other members of council, as we lobby the government.” 

Watson said he hopes that federal politicians are given a little time before being called back to Parliament, allowing them some time to reflect. He would like to see a greater sense of collaboration, especially with a minority government.