Liberals win election, Schmale takes riding: Is blue the only colour we know?

By Roderick Benns

Roderick Benns is the publisher of The Advocate. An award-winning author and journalist who grew up in Lindsay, he has written several books including Basic Income: How a Canadian Movement Could Change the World.

Jame Schmale re-elected.

We live in a riding that has been Conservative on a federal level every single year since the 1940s, save former Liberal MP John O’Reilly’s three consecutive wins which must come with an asterisk.

(From 1993 to 2004 the Reform Party vote (or Canadian Alliance) plus the Progressive Conservative vote easily beat O’Reilly’s electoral showing for the Liberals.)

All this is to say that this riding is so blue at the federal level I am willing to bet Jamie Schmale could have taken these last 40 days or so off. He could have sat at home and read a few good books or binge-watched Netflix or taken a European vacation…and still would have won.

To his credit, he did no such thing. Schmale knows his files. He is a strong communicator. He has worked hard as our local representative. He just happens to be attached to the only dynasty party we have in Haliburton – Kawartha Lakes – Brock. It is, and for now remains, a golden ticket riding.

MPP Laurie Scott’s father, Bill Scott, served this area for an incredible 24 years, winning seven elections in a row.

Interestingly, on a provincial level there is a precedent for the NDP winning here, during the great orange wave that swept Ontario when Bob Rae was premier in 1990.

Dennis Drainville won for the NDP which is tantamount to saying never say never. (The NDP also came a distant second – but second, mind you – in the last local provincial race under candidate Zac Miller.)

Last Night’s Results

Schmale captured 32,000 votes last night, nearly half the popular vote. Judi Forbes, the Liberal candidate, was a distant second with just under 17,000 votes and the NDP’s Barbara Doyle garnered 9,500. The young Green candidate, Elizabeth Fraser, had nearly 5,500 votes while Gene Balfour’s further right, more Libertarian local option in the form of the PPC captured roughly 1,200 votes.

It must be observed that the left, nationally, is increasingly split in its voting intentions, with a Liberal Party increasingly leaning centre left, a steady NDP, and a Green Party that is growing. In the previous federal election local Liberal candidate David Marquis and NDP candidate Mike Perry polled higher together than Schmale.

This time around, the same is roughly true if we toss in the Green Party which doubled its vote count here under Fraser compared to the last Green showing. So it’s not to say there aren’t voters here who are neither Conservative nor conservative; it’s to say that there are perhaps too many choices for these people.

It’s also to say that we desperately need some kind of electoral reform, the specifics of which I am hoping will be discussed in this next mandate of this untested government. But I’m not holding my breath.

Do I yearn one day for greater voter volatility in our riding, similar to what our Peterborough-area neighbours experience? Of course, for it will demonstrate we are at least considering other options, not voting reflexively through familial voting patterns. No one party should hold sway at the federal level for an extended period of time; nor should one party hold sway at the local riding level forever.

Greater voter volatility here will suggest we are not slavishly following one political brand like mere automatons but rather are willing to make changes in our voting patterns – especially if we wish to see changes in our lives and our community.

Not being able to predict who will win the next election in Haliburton – Kawartha Lakes – Brock would be a gift that keeps on giving – an ongoing referendum of ideas that constituents would actually consider, not a rubber stamp stuck permanently on blue.

4 Comments

  1. Horatio Foxx says:

    No mention of John F. Eakins?

    He was a Liberal member of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario from 1975 to 1990 who represented the riding of Victoria—Haliburton. He served as a cabinet minister in the government of David Peterson.

    Eakins was born in Mariposa Township in Victoria County, Ontario and educated in Lindsay, Ontario. Eakins was a barber and hairdresser.

  2. Roderick Benns says:

    Yes, of course you are right, but this article was focused on the federal level. True, Drainville and Eakins are both good provincial examples from two other parties.

  3. Diane Engelstad says:

    The important point is that Jamie Schmale should remain humble, recognizing that more people voted for other candidates than for him, even in this conservative stronghold. I hope he listens to the concerns and ideas of the other half of his constituents, to help solve the problems facing Kawartha-Haliburton-Brock.

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