New North Island-Powell River MP-elect’s first priority will be “figuring out how everything works” when she gets to Ottawa to take up her seat in the House of Commons.
Once there, though, the job will be “making sure that the voice of this riding is heard loud and clear” in the national capital, something she will do from the opposition benches after the Liberal Party swept to power in Monday’s federal election.
“It’s unfortunate that Canada decided that change was the Liberal Party,” Blaney said election night. “But I am excited to work with my colleagues in Ottawa to make sure the Liberals do exactly what they said and to make sure that those NDP values come through that.”
Blaney said the desire for change was strong amongst North Island-Powell River voters and through the hard work of her team, they saw her as the vehicle for that change in this riding.
“You know, I think what swayed people was just a lot of hard work,” Blaney said. “We had a lot of volunteers out talking to people on doors; I’ve been talking to a lot of people, doing a lot of meet-and-greets. So, I think that was part of it.
“And I think the desire for change was really strong. People want to see more connection to the riding and they want to see those focuses on the good-paying jobs, on making sure we protect our environment and making sure we have sustainable health care.”
In her victory speech Monday night, Blaney referenced job creation as a priority.
“We are also going to be out fighting for good jobs, especially in communities like ours that have been left behind,” she told her supporters.
She elaborated on that later: “What we’re really interested in seeing is what kind of business can be developed especially around small business.”
She cited positive opportunities like the clean energy sector and manufacturing on a small-business scale.
“There are opportunities, but we don’t see the support here that needs to be here for those businesses to grow and increase,” she said. “So my role is going to be go out, understand what the needs are and then fight like heck to make sure the realities come here.”
With 40 per cent of the vote – 22,836 votes – Blaney delivered a victory speech at the Campbell River Labour Centre Monday night to a room of supporters happy with a North Island-Powell River victory, ecstatic that Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party has been shown the door but subdued about the NDP collapse nationally.
“So, what a hard night of mixed emotions,” Blaney said. “You know, I am so excited. I am so excited to work hard for North Island-Powell River. I am so excited that this riding chose positive change. I am so happy.
“And I am so incredibly proud of Tom Mulcair who has led us in tremendous ways and who has shown himself to be an amazing leader. And I am so sorry that there was a mistake in the change choice. That’s just how I’m going to see it.”
Blaney was referring to the assessment that Canadian voters wanted change from the Harper Conservatives and decided that Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party was the vehicle to provide that change. She would, obviously, have preferred that voters go with the NDP as the engine of change in Canadian politics. Nationally, the Liberals were leading or elected in 184 seats, the Conservatives 99 seats, the NDP 44, the Bloc Quebecois 10 and the Green Party 1. The results swept the Liberals into a majority government and swept the NDP out of the opposition, relegating the Conservatives to that role.
The Liberal wave began in Atlantic Canada and swept across the nation with islands of Conservative, NDP and Bloc Quebecois victories here and there in central Canada, a Conservative wall in the southern prairies, Alberta and the Interior of B.C. before washing over a NDP strip on the far west coast, including Vancouver Island.
Blaney will be joined on the NDP side of the house by Gord Johns who defeated long time Vancouver Island North MP John Duncan. Duncan chose to run in the newly-formed Courtenay-Alberni riding which was created along with North Island-Powell River.
Blaney thanked her family and election team profusely and paid tribute to her competitors, Conservative Laura Smith, Liberal Peter Schwarzhoff and Green candidate Brenda Sayers.
Blaney said she and her team will be out in Ottawa fighting to make sure the Liberals “do their job.”
“We’re going to fight hard for things like affordable child care,” she said. “We are going to fight hard for appropriate health care. We know what our communities need and I will be out there fighting for that. We are also going to be out fighting for good jobs, especially in communities like ours that have been left behind.”
The numbers (as of Tuesday morning):
- Rachel Blaney, NPD – 22,836 votes; 40 per cent.
- Laura Smith, Conservative – 14,960; 26.2 per cent.
- Peter Schwarzhoff, Liberal – 14,527; 25.5 per cent.
- Brenda Sayers, Green – 4,749; 8.3 per cent.