Candidates who were defeated by the Conservatives’ Robert Kitchen in Souris-Moose Mountain in Monday’s federal election had plenty to say about the results, both locally and nationally.
NDP candidate Ashlee Hicks was happy with her outcome in the election in second place, albeit a distant second in a six-horse race behind Kitchen.
“It was a good run,” she said. “I’m happy with the way the forums went, and in a riding where it’s overwhelmingly Conservative support.”
With 190 of 192 polling stations reporting, she garnered 3,096 votes or 7.7 per cent of the ballots cast.
“The most important thing I could do is to take advantage of the opportunity to have a conversation with the sitting MP, and keep an open dialogue,” said Hicks. “I’m pretty happy with finishing in second place. It’s a really tough riding in trying to get ahead.”
While living in Saskatoon, she was able to come down to the riding to do some campaigning, including attending the candidates’ forums in Moosomin, Weyburn and Estevan, and she was able to put her message across to those audiences at least.
While acknowledging not many people agreed with her positions, “I feel it’s a vital part of the conversation.”
Nationally, with the NDP in fourth, behind the Bloc Quebecois, Hicks said, “I feel we’re in a very interesting position, and I feel our concerns and voice of opposition is really going to create a little future with a minority government.”
Asked if she thinks there might be a possible coalition with the minority Liberal government, she said, “I’m not sure if it’s going to happen. It could put us in a better position in getting our policies into the grand scheme of things.”
Hicks said it was “absolutely” worth it to put her name in and run as a candidate, and noted she found it invaluable to have conversations with the incumbent MP, as she found he genuinely cares for this riding, and the people of the riding have full confidence in him as their MP.
As to whether she might run again as a candidate, Hicks said, “Perhaps. I would never say no. I feel at the end of the day the best I can do is to put my party’s message forward and have some good conversations.”
Phil Zajac, who was the candidate for the People’s Party of Canada, finished fourth with 675 votes, or 1.7 per cent. He thought he would do better; in fact, he thought he would win the riding.
Zajac said most people he talked to in the constituency are concerned about the future of coal mining.
“I spent a lot of time in Coronach last week, and the thing that struck me was that when you’re in Ottawa or Toronto or a big city, or even Regina or Saskatoon, it would be no big deal to close a power plant or to close a mine,” said Zajac at his campaign office in Estevan.
But in a smaller community, it’s a much larger impact. And when he met people and saw their faces, he could see they were losing hope.
“Somebody needs to be the voice of those people,” said Zajac.
He was disappointed to see that party leader Maxime Bernier, who launched the People’s Party last year, lost his seat in Beauce, Quebec. Bernier finished more than 6,000 seats behind Ricard Lehoux of the Conservatives.
“It’s going to be a little tougher road, and everybody knows that,” said Zajac.
The party was also shut out from Parliament during the election.
As for the Liberals getting re-elected, he said he was surprised with the support they received amid the bad publicity the Liberals received regarding the SNC-Lavalin scandal and other issues.
“You would think that people would not be as interested in voting for the Liberal Party, but it just seemed like nobody really cared,” said Zajac.
Travis Patron of the Canadian Nationalist Party, placed last in the voting with 166 votes or 0.4 per cent of the support.
Patron said he came into the election with the feeling he had nothing to lose and everything to gain as a brand new party on the federal scene.
“I put a new idealism forward of Canadian nationalism. We haven’t had that, but it’s also clear we have a lot of work to do,” said Patron.
From the campaign, he said it’s also clear a lot of people haven’t heard of him or his party, and he also found that there are a lot of people not happy with the Conservatives, so there is a chance to let people know about where the Nationalist Party stands.
Patron said it was definitely worth putting his name forward, and that of the Canadian Nationalist Party, and the lessons learned from the campaign will help him formulate his strategy going forward to build the party up for the next election.
For one thing, he wants to have candidates in more ridings by the next election.
Even though he was disappointed with the results, he said he would rather be politically active than to just vote once every four years, and feels he can make a difference in people’s lives this way.
Calls to Judy Mergel of the Green Party of Canada were not returned, and Javin Ames-Sinclair of the Liberal Party could not be reached for comment.