During the CJOY debate last week, a caller phoned in with a question for Frank Valeriote that asked why, in the wake of an unlikely Liberal victory, should Guelph voters put their support behind the incumbent? But why follows why not? The question itself is loaded, implying that the only way one can be effectual in government is by being a part of the party in power. I'd like to think that in the last two-and-a-half years Valeriote has proved time and again that an Opposition MP can be very effective, if not as effective, as an MP that's part of the governing party. And that's why Valeriote was given a mandate and a return ticket to Ottawa on Monday night.
Our system of government is supposed to work by choosing the person you think will represent you best in Ottawa, not necessarily party leaders and party ideology. That comes into it too, of course, but it seems that Guelph decided that having an opposition MP was alright by them, and why not? Valeriote is an accomplished man that many people in Guelph respect, and even if they don't agree with him politically, he made a strong case and was indeed highly visible and highly active locally as a Member of Parliament.
By the numbers, Valeriote won with 25,574, or 43 per cent of the vote. This represents a 10 per cent increase over the last election, which saw Valeriote win with 18,977. Marty Burke finished with 19,252 votes or 32 per cent of the vote. While not enough to beat Valeriote, Burke did best Gloria Kovach's 29 per cent share of the votes, 17,185 in total, from the 2008 election. The NDP's Bobbi Stewart finished a respectable third with 16 per cent, or 9,836 votes. Green's John Lawson finished in fourth place with 3,711 votes, or six per cent overall, with each of the other candidates getting triple digit numbers: Philip Bender (192), Kornelis Klevering (171), Karen Levenson (123), and Drew Garvie (104).
So what does this mean for Guelph? Well, right off, I guess the Harper Government will probably not be compelled to fawn over us anymore. If they can't win Guelph under these conditions, how can they ever win Guelph?
Who's to blame for that? Well, Marty Burke need only look so far as the mirror. He was almost a complete non-entity in his own campaign, even being notable for his absence in the article about his election night festivities. Not only was he not at his campaign HQ (at least while the press were there), watching the returns come in, he didn't offer Valeriote his concession either. It was really the perfect end to the Burke campaign; a campaign of obfuscation and such careful strategizing that Burke practically strategized himself out of contention, only really being carried by the unwavering support of the Conservative base.
Burke's response to the CJOY question was basically that people should vote for him because it would mean he would be an MP in the government, not the opposition. In the end, the Burke campaign was about only two things: getting Harper a majority by electing him, and that he was in the air force for 23 years. I'm still not sure what he, personally, stood for. I hear comments from people talking about what a great guy he is, but that's hard for me to determine for myself when he didn't talk to anyone I know in this campaign. And by "I know," I mean press people. Even the Mercury only ever got the e-mail treatment, and if people can't hear your voice or read your words, especially when they only come out of the Blackberry of your communications director, don't be surprised if the voters don't respond.
Anyway, I think that's a wrap for the 2011 Federal Election. I honestly didn't expect to get sucked in the way I did, but I'm kind of glad I did. What's next for Politico? There are a couple of local stories I've had on the back burner for a while, and once I get those posted I'll probably take a bit of break. It looks like I might be a permanent part of CFRU's new local politics show, and there'll be more details on that when it happens. In the meantime, stay tuned to Guelph Politico for all the latest political scoop and commentary. And now, to bed!...