KANATA – Lots of outside political prognosticators called the Kanata-Carleton Riding a toss up heading in to the 43rd Canadian general election. Like most outsiders, they didn’t know what they were talking about.
The 2019 election was the second federal election under the new riding which lost a large chunk of rural Lanark County while adding a big chunk of suburban Kanata for the 2015 election. Before 2015 the riding was true blue at both the provincial and federal election.
Karen McCrimmon’s first victory in 2015 was considered a minor upset. For the 2019 election, many politicos called the Kanata-Carleton riding a toss-up between McCrimmon and Conservative candidate Justina McCaffrey. West Carleton Online publisher Jake Davies told The Hill Times last week he expected McCrimmon would defend her seat.
When the ballots were finally counted, Liberal candidate, and now two-term Member of Parliament, Karen McCrimmon cruised to a relatively easy victory by more than 4,100 votes and 43 per cent of the 64,613 votes cast. The final tally is as follows: McCrimmon received 27,802 votes, McCaffrey
23,699 votes, NDP Melissa Coenraad 8,001 votes, Green Party Dr. Jennifer Purdy 4,182 votes and People’s Party of Canada’s Scott Miller 929 votes.
McCaffrey started campaigning more than a year before the election after winning the nomination in August, 2018. With that time she attended community events such as West Carleton Santa Claus parades and other community functions. Her team claimed she knocked on tens of thousands of doors. But the closer the election drew, the more gaffes McCaffrey made.
When the 40-day election campaign officially started, McCaffrey began to self-destruct.
Conservative party leader Andrew Scheer dropped by a McCaffrey campaign event in September that was supposed to boost her campaign, but ended with McCaffrey fleeing CBC reporters. At the first Kanata-Carleton all-candidates debate held in Kinburn McCaffrey struggled, head buried in her notes, reading her answers to every question posed. Following that debate, it was hit or miss if McCaffrey was going to even be present at organized candidates’ events.
McCrimmon said, she felt McCaffrey’s absence hurt the Conservative’s chances.
“I think so,” McCrimmon told West Carleton Online shortly after giving her acceptance speech from The Lone Star Restaurant in Kanata. “People now want to be connected to the people that represent them. You have to be out there. How are people going to feel comfortable coming to talk to you if they have never seen you? It makes a big difference.”
Despite McCaffrey’s unravelling, McCrimmon didn’t think the race felt that close to begin with.
“No, no it didn’t,” she said. “The doors were amazing, they got better over time. The doors in July were not as good as the doors in October. But we just kept going, we were out there talking to people and people really appreciated that.”
The Constance Bay resident said door knocking was so important, her and her team made it their priority.
“Every single day, and that’s what made the difference,” McCrimmon said. “Being able to show up. It matters to people, that you make the effort to be on their doorstep to talk to them. Being out and about and visible. What I discovered is, I try to go to events, I try to go to every single fireman’s breakfast, and barbecue and corn roast and community event and people get used to seeing you so when they have a question or problem they need dealt with, they’re not afraid to come and talk to you. I think that’s wonderful.”
Now that the election is over, McCrimmon says her Number One job is two infrastructure projects.
“Light Rail Train in Kanata and Internet in West Carleton those are the two,” McCrimmon said. “Digital infrastructure and transit infrastructure. And we’ll get the result from the environmental assessment shortly, that will give us a better idea of how much money we are going to need, what are the challenges going to be, what is the priority and the order to make this happen? Then we just have to figure out where all the money is going to come from. Then we’re going to have to reach out to the province and say we want to team up on this.”
But tonight (Oct. 21) it was a night to celebrate with her husband Rob, children Kyle and Brea and her team of supporters.
Former West Carleton councillor and reeve Jack Shaw was one of the West Carleton supporters in attendance at the Kanata election victory party. He says McCrimmon’s win, combined with Justin Trudeau’s win, is a win for West Carleton.
“I think it’s a real plus to have your member a part of the ruling government,” Shaw told West Carleton Online. “She is an excellent person. She is so well qualified. It’s just hard to say enough good things about her. And she doesn’t show any of that. She has those humble means, making everyone feel they are equal, and I think that’s a great thing.”
Shaw was a West Carleton councillor from 1965 to 1972. After that he was West Carleton’s last reeve.
“My experience from municipal council, is you have to treat everyone fairly,” he said. “She does that.”
Shaw, who lives on John Shaw Road between Kinburn and Carp, says McCrimmon is visible all the time, not just during the election campaign.
“She is a wonderful person,” Shaw said. “she’s a leader, of course that all fits in within the community. Whenever there was a disaster like the tornado, she was there, the flood, she was filling up sandbags with sand. She’s just the master of all things.”
While Trudeau and the Liberal party will form the new government, they’ll do so as a minority government. The party captured 20 less seats this time around for 157. The Conservatives won 121 seats, the resurgent Bloc Quebecois 32, the NDP 24, the Green Party 3, independents won one seat and the People’s Party of Canada was shut out. Conservative leader Andrew Scheer won the popular vote despite losing the election.
The Liberals were 13 seats short of a majority and will rely on NDP support on confidence votes.
West Carleton Online dropped by the Green Party office before the polls closed and spoke with Dunrobin’s Purdy about her campaign. West Carleton Online will have that story later today.