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Blue skies over Perth-Wellington riding

by Mike Robinson

STRATFORD - As the political map of Canada became a bit more blue with the election of a majority government on Monday night, Conservative candidate Gary Schellenberger celebrated both his fifth consecutive election win and the 45th anniversary of his marriage to his wife, Judy.

The results in the Perth-Wellington riding echoed the feelings across Canada, including a Conservative win and a second place finish by the NDP, followed by the Liberals.

Elections Canada preliminary tallies had Schellenberger at 25,281, representing 54.5% of the votes. In a distant second and third place were, respectively, NDP candidate Ellen Pappenburg at 9,879 votes (21.3%) and Liberal Bob McTavish at 8,341 votes (18%).

Green Party candidate John Cowling garnered 2,102 votes (4.5%), while Irma DeVries, of the Christian Heritage Party, received 806 votes (1.7%).

Voter turnout in Perth Wellington was 46,409, 63.9% of the registered voters.

Schellenberger considered it a very positive local campaign.

“I’ve been really pleased with the way it went,” he said on Monday night. “It was a clean campaign, and it’s surprising how quickly it goes by.”

As for specific issues on the campaign trail, Schellenberger said the big thing is people are worried about the economy and keeping their jobs.

“It’s pretty hard to pay the bills if you don’t have a job. And without a good economy, you don’t have jobs,” he said.

Schellenberger added that was why Conservatives were working hard to get a majority government - to keep the economy going in the right direction.

He said the concerns in Perth and Wellington Counties  were very similar.

“Often it is an underlying thing; you get health questions, agriculture - and agriculture and health are both parts of the economy.” He said Canada needs to have a strong economy in order to pay for social services.

Personally, he said it was a great feeling to be elected for the fifth consecutive time. As the night progressed, Schellenberger was pleased with the way results were shaping up.

“I was told earlier that there might be some pretty close races ... what I’m seeing is pretty good. Right here for me, I really wanted to get 50% plus one. It looks like I’m going to achieve that.

Schellenberger stressed, “The fifth time is every bit as exciting as the first.”

He admitted to being more comfortable than during his first election in 2003, but part of that is having the support  of people in the riding who, he said, are telling him, “Gary, I think you’ve done a good job. We’d like to send you back again. That’s reassuring and it makes you feel good.”

Watching the results, he told supporters “This is wonderful. It’s coming out just the way it felt like.”

Schellenberger’s campaign manager, Jeff Marshall, commented it had been a great 38 days and, “We worked hard and we got the greatest MP in Canada re-elected.”

As the local victory was declared, Schellenberger first said how honoured he was to be re-elected as a Member of Parliament for Perth-Wellington.

“Next week on May 12, I will celebrate the anniversary of my first election as a member of Parliament ... Have we ever been out of election mode - no.

“Tonight I am just as humbled as I was in 2003.”

He was glad to once again have the confidence of the  community to once again serve as their representative in Ottawa.

“I am very proud of the campaign we ran in Perth-Wellington and across the country.” He maintained that in the past five years, the government has delivered focussed results in local communities.

“We delivered on projects in all corners of this riding,” he said.

Schellenberger agreed there were still a lot more votes to be counted that night, “but I am confident that when all is said and done, we will have a stable Conservative government that will continue to get results for Canadians.”

He offered congratulations to the other four candidates. To them, he said “well done. It’s never easy to put your name on the ballot.”

Schellenberger said there were many people involved throughout the campaign.

“Finally, there is one person who I cannot forget, and that is of course, my wife of 45 years. Judy and I just celebrated our anniversary last Friday and she has supported me without fail. It was only fitting that we celebrated our anniversary on the campaign trail.”

“Tomorrow morning, we will get back to work for the people of Perth-Wellington.”

Schellenberger looks forward to additional time between now and the next election and said with a majority government, “We can do some real business.” Schellenberger anticipates parliament will be called back in the near future to get the budget passed. He said other items may be on the docket, but they might not be addressed before summer.

His understanding is that it would be the same budget as already drafted, but a procedure is required to bring it back.

“You see that budget was never voted on. We can not work without a budget,” he stressed.

Ellen Pappenburg - NDP

On her Facebook page prior to voting date, Pappenburg said, “People are ready for a change and it is definitely time for a change away from the same old, same old.”

In an early Tuesday morning telephone interview, Pappenburg said that locally, the NDP gathered over 20% of the vote, something that has never been done before.

While she has mixed feelings with the Conservative majority, she is encouraged.

“I have been talking to a lot of people and many are very concerned about what has happened to Canada,” she said.

She said people will have to wait and see what the next four years would bring. As well, it will be a time to find out how much power the NDP will have as the official opposition.

But like on the national front, Pappenburg found a real surge of support for the NDP in Perth-Wellington.

“It reflected what was happening in the rest of the country,” she said.

As she offered congratulations to Schellenberger, she said he offered her congratulations for her results as a first-time candidate.

“It was a very exciting campaign, which I enjoyed very much,” she said.

At a local level, Pappenburg was pleased with the lack of mudslinging.

“Politics is not attacking the person, it is about the policies. The people have spoken, and we will see what happens.”

Bob McTavish - Liberal

McTavish stopped by Schellenberger’s campaign party on election night to congratulate his opponent.

Yet the Conservative majority worries McTavish, who has concerns about the prime minister and the use of highly-paid consultants. Another concern for him is Conservative  tactics used in the past.

“It’s all downhill from here,” McTavish said on Monday night.

Speaking to members of the press, he was surprised with the way the election headed.

“I didn’t think the NDP tsunami would cross into our territory,” he noted. He wasn’t certain why it happened, but certainly it will mean changes for the future.

“It really is a bit scary,” McTavish said. Even so, he said he was in good spirits that night and plans to enjoy his retirement.

As for the defeat of party leader Michael Ignatieff, McTavish said, “If it happened, it was not by his own hand.” He contended there has been a negative campaign for over a year.

“I really am concerned with anyone who, to win the game, finds it necessary to tear down  opponents by means that are outside the rules of the game.

“As a result, I have concerns about what is going to happen to the federal government in the next five years.”

Irma DeVries - CHP

In an email directed to the Advertiser office, DeVries called it “an interesting campaign and somewhat discouraging, too, as I noticed people moving away from the conservatives and toward the left. “

Part of the discouragement came from comments from people who wanted to know what the government would do for them.

“That was very tough for me because I believe in personal responsibility,” DeVries said. “The ‘nanny’ state is not going to solve your problems.”

She continued to state that moral issues are key to electing those who will govern well.

DeVries said the time commitment is intense and she looked forward to a few days away, playing with her grandchildren and relaxing.

 

Vol 44 Issue 18

 
 

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