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Kootenay Conservative candidate sits on top; final result pending mail-in ballots

Rob Morrison appears headed for second term as Member of Parliament for Kootenay-Columbia
Rob Morrison (left) and Wayne Stetski. Photos courtesy Jocelyn Doll and Claire Palmer

As of Tuesday, Sept. 21, the 44th federal election had shaken down across Canada the way most had expected it to.

The federal Liberals, led by Justin Trudeau, were returned with a minority government, with the other main parties hovering around the seats totals they held when the election was called in August.

In Kootenay-Columbia, the election was a strange reflection of the 2019 contest. Official results are still pending, awaiting the counting of mail-in ballots.

With 265 out 266 polls reporting, and 99 per cent of votes counted, Conservative incumbent MP Rob Morrison was ahead of the NDP’s Wayne Stetski by over 4,600 votes.

Morrison declared victory Tuesday morning, noting that his ballot margin over Stetski is larger than the total of mail-in ballots that have yet to be counted.

He acknowledged the ‘divisive’ atmosphere across the country, blaming lockdowns and and the challenges of navigating pandemic restrictions juxtaposed against charter rights and freedoms.

“It became so divisive across Canada,” Morrison said. “I hope, moving forward when we open Parliament again, that we can start building Canada again where we’re proud to be Canadians and start working together.”

Addressing housing affordability and labour shortages were two of the most prominent issues raised on the campaign trail, Morrison said.

“The economy is starting to pick up, we need a safe recovery, but we also need to start opening up our borders for the tourism and hospitality sector,” he said, specifically noting that guiders and outfitters have had no international clientele since the pandemic began.

In 2019, Morrison won the riding handily over then-incumbent MP Stetski by some 7,000 votes.

Elections Canada reported that 5,304 mail-in ballots were issued for Kootenay-Columbia, and 4,353 were returned. In Canada, one million voters applied to cast their ballots by mail, and 850,000 were returned to Elections Canada.

Counting of the mail-in ballots was to begin Tuesday, September 21.

In light of the uncertainty at the end of election night, the front-running candidates were subdued, as far as commenting on the night’s events.

A campaign spokesman for Stetski said that there would likely not be a final result until later this week, and the candidate would be prepared to offer a statement at that time.

As of press time, Rob Morrison was unavailable for comment, waiting for the results of the advance polls to be counted late Monday night.

Voter turnout, according to preliminary results, was lower compared to 2019’s 72.68 per cent.

According to Elections Canada almost 61,000 of 95,518 registered electors in the riding (just over 64 per cent) voted in the 44th federal election.

One development that played a factor in vote was a surge by the People’s Party of Canada in Kootenay-Columbia. In 2019, the upstart party gained just over 1,300 votes (2.05 per cent). This election saw them with over 4,316 (7.1 per cent), likely at the expense of some of the Conservatives’ votes.

The Green Party, by contrast, dropped from 6,145 votes in 2019 to just over 2,403 (4.3 per cent).

The Liberals vote share held steady at 9 per cent.

Robin Goldsbury, running her second campaign for the Liberals in Kootenay-Columbia, was pleased with the nation-wide results.

“It looks like it’s going to be a coalition government, which is not a bad thing. I believe in collaboration, and pulling people together, and I think this forces the government to work with others to come up with the best possible programs out there.

“For me, I’m delighted that Canadians have put their support behind Liberal leadership. That means we’re moving ahead with 10 dollar a day childcare, national housing strategy, more health care workers here in the Kootenays, a climate change plan. Now we can start working on getting the economy working and getting people back to work.

“Covid hijacked the mandate of the government for the last year and a half. I think this election was needed so we could look at a mandate moving ahead.”

This was Goldsbury’s second campaign in the riding.

“It was a lot harder with Covid, and such a short campaign, and a summer campaign. We worked hard. I had the most amazing crew.

“But we’re still working on [building a Liberal presence in Kootenay-Columbia]. We’re here to stay. We’re building our presence. We’re pulling up to 10 per cent in support, which is making progress. People are now proud to say they’re Liberals in the riding.”

In Revelstoke, Rana Nelson of the Green Party was at home watching the results with her family.

“It’s been about growth and learning,” Nelson said. “I’ve been getting lots of support from friends and family across Canada. It’s nice to know that that’s out there.”

She spoke with pride about her colleagues in the Green Party across the country, namely the ones who won seats. She was surprised about the results so far from Annamie Paul’s riding in Toronto and recounted her time in the area at Ryerson.

She recounted the debates and public speaking leading up to the election and said: “it’s all about the people, really.”

As ofTuesday morning, the Liberal were elected or leading in 158 seats. The Conservatives with 119. The Bloc Quebecois, 34 seats The NDP now hold 25 in the House of Commons. The Green Party got two seats, down one.

With files from Josh Piercey

Barry Coulter

About the Author: Barry Coulter

Barry Coulter had been Editor of the Cranbrook Townsman since 1998, and has been part of all those dynamic changes the newspaper industry has gone through over the past 20 years.
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