By Susan McNeil and Jason Kerr
The ink was barely dry on the ballots but it was obvious that Randy Hoback would be keeping his seat in Parliament, representing the riding of Prince Albert in Ottawa.
At 10 pm on Sept. 20, Hoback had a handy lead on his nearest rival, Ken MacDougall (NDP), with 17,570 votes counted compared to MacDougall’s 4,275 and over 50 per cent of the polls reporting.
“Maybe the deck is shuffled a little bit, but as far as percentages, it looks like we’re five to 10 per cent of where we were last time,” said Hoback. “We’re pretty happy with that. We’re thankful for the people of Prince Albert for the trust they’ve put in me to continue as their Member of Parliament.”
Hoback was first elected in 2008 as a candidate for the Conservative Party and has kept his seat in following elections in 2011, 2015 and 2019.
“I love my job and they’re great people to work for so I’m glad I’m going to have the opportunity to continue to do that,” he said. “Now we have to look in the context of a Liberal minority government and what that looks like. The priority again is the people of Prince Albert and what I can do to help serve them and keep their priorities alive.”
Hoback said that most of the voters he talked to are very worried about the amount of deficit and debt in the Liberal budgets to date and the impact deals with the NDP have had.
“Holding the government to account becomes more difficult when you have the NDP always shoring up the Liberals and this looks like the same scenario we’re going into this fall,” Hoback said. “For the NDP, this is as good as they’re ever going to get. So will they form a government, we’ll have to wait and see.”
The Conservatives have criticized the Liberal Party for calling an election during the pandemic and with the results of the election a similar scenario of a Liberal minority government, Hoback said his party can use that to their advantage.
“We’ll be looking at what tools are in our toolbox and deploying them as we see fit,” he said. “We’ve had success in the past in keeping things stalled, C10 is a good example where we stalled it and stalled it and stalled it and managed to almost get it killed.”
Bill C-10, an act that was to change the Broadcasting Act, was passed by the Parliament, but was waiting Senate approval when the election was called, effectively killing it.
Hoback said the Conservatives will look at each Act as it comes through Parliament and if they feel it is good for Canada, they will support it although when asked where the two parties have common ground, he could not think of any examples.
“There’s not a lot there. You’ve got two different opinions on where our country should go,” he said. “I’m very worried and people in our riding have said that they’re worried about the amount of money that’s being spent and how it’s going to be paid back.”
Running in third place was Estelle Hjertaas of the Liberal Party, fourth was Joseph McCrea of the PPC with 1,943, followed by the Maverick Party’s Heather Schmitt and Hamish Graham of the Green Party was last with 283 votes
Efforts to talk to runner up Ken MacDougall were not successful prior to deadline.
Liberals finish third in Prince Albert, but Hjertaas pleased with national result
Liberal candidate Estelle Hjertaas said she’s disappointed with the results in Prince Albert, but not surprised to see another Liberal government.
As of press time, Hjertaas had exactly 11 per cent of the vote. That’s a slight improvement over her showing in 2019, but not enough to pull the Liberals out of third place locally.
“Obviously, it’s disappointing for us here in Prince Albert, but it’s been a Conservative riding for a long time,” Hjertaas said late Monday evening. “All we can do is try our best to get the message out and connect with as many voters as possible.”
Hjertaas said her campaign took a safe approach this year due to the challenges posed by COVID-19. The Liberals relied more on phone calls than door-knocking in 2021, but Hjertaas said the different dynamic changed the campaign.
Nationally, she wasn’t surprised to see Prime Minister Justin Trudeau return to office. She said most voters were more concerned about the direction of the country, while a minority focused on Trudeau’s leadership.
“I think it was a very reasonable thing to give Canadians a choice: do they like the approach that we had under Justin Trudeau, or do they want a different approach?” she said. “Obviously, … Canadians have chosen that they want to continue with a Liberal approach.”
PPC’s McCrea takes positives from party’s second campaign
People’s Party of Canada candidate Joseph McCrea said his party isn’t going away despite only a slight improvement in the national and local polls.
McCrea finished with seven per cent of the vote in Prince Albert, a significant increase over the two per cent the PPC received in 2019, He also managed to pull the party into fourth place ahead of the Green Party, who saw their vote share fall to one per cent.
“It’s been an exciting four weeks campaigning,” McCrea said. “It was a short election, so I did the best that I could, had a lot of good support. People want change. They want freedom, and we’re going to continue to fight.
“That’s my message. We have to fight for our freedoms and rights, and we’re not going to stop just because of the result of the election. I will continue to keep running next time, but in the meantime, we’re going to keep fighting.”
Nationally, the PPC improved their popular vote total from two per cent to just over five per cent (as of press time), but once again failed to win any seats. Leader Maxime Bernier fared even worse this time round, getting 19 per cent of the popular vote in his riding, compared to 28 per cent in 2019.
On Monday night, however, McCrea said Bernier deserved credit for all his hard work.
“If you look at his rallies and wherever he went, there were a lot of people, thousands of people at them, so he did a great job,” McCrea explained. “The overall PPC national result was disappointing, but we’re just getting started, and I’m looking forward to the next run.”
Maverick Party candidate Heather Schmitt finished in fifth with 390 votes (one per cent of the popular vote) as of press time, while Green Party candidate Hamish Graham finished sixth with 290 votes, which was also good for one per cent of the popular vote.