EDITORIAL – Local election result reflects disaffection with Ottawa

(Image: CFJC screenshot)

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

WE’VE HAD A WEEK to digest the results of the federal election and the more I think about it, the more the outcome in Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo reflects what happened across the country.

That might seem like a strange conclusion given that Justin Trudeau and the Liberals hung on for a minority victory while Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo returned an incumbent Conservative MP.

Not only did Cathy McLeod keep her seat, but she won it with her greatest margin of victory ever. To say Lake’s 12,000-vote defeat was humiliating for the former mayor and former provincial cabinet minister might be harsh, but it was certainly convincing.

Four years ago, a relatively unknown Steve Powrie — with a comparatively modest campaign — brought the Liberals to within 3,000 votes of McLeod. So when Lake announced his candidacy, Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo was immediately labeled a “riding to watch.”

What accounts, then, for the drubbing? The riding has long been a Conservative stronghold but that core vote is only part of the story. The rest is that Lake couldn’t overcome the baggage of Justin Trudeau. The prime minister is profoundly unpopular in these parts right now, just as he is in many parts of the country.

At the start of the campaign, the momentum was with Trudeau and Lake but that changed dramatically after the scandals. Those scandals sucked the air out of the Lake campaign as Trudeau became an albatross around its neck.

Maybe the order of finish would have been the same, but there’s no question Trudeau cost the Liberals thousands of votes here.

As Canada struggles to deal with the results of this election, we need look no further than Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo for an example of the severe disaffection in this side of the country toward Ottawa and the ruling party.

Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and newspaper editor. He writes five commentaries a week for CFJC Today, publishes the opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at

About Mel Rothenburger (8251 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

4 Comments on EDITORIAL – Local election result reflects disaffection with Ottawa

  1. Walter Trkla // October 31, 2019 at 12:11 PM // Reply

    In this election like the last one we are treated to the same spectacle. Ordinarily intelligent people, and some not so intelligent, make fools of themselves in the belief that the elections will make Canada a democracy. Democracy is probably the most lied-about word in our dictionary.

    The journalist can say anything in the defense of democracy if it is positive, and it will not be challenged by most academics. Those that do question our democratic institutions are marginalized, and seldom quoted. Those that are quoted support the status quo.

    We have representatives (MP’s and MLA’s), a Charter of Rights and Freedoms and institutions that function in the interest of select few. You just need to look at Ottawa and Victoria to know that democracy is owned by a few so the process is dominated by wealth to create more wealth for the few. Did anyone ask you if Terry Lake or Cathy McLeod should represent you. They were selected by others, oh yes, they will say you can join the party and have a say, say about what a choice made for me by others.

    Our political system is very limited in delivering democracy. How can it be democratic when 22% of the public gets all the say over the other 78%? How can it be a democracy when 33% of the popular vote translates into 46% of the seats? How can it be a democracy when the opposition is never listened to? How can it be a democracy if an MP in one riding represents 150, 000 voters and another MP in a different riding represent 80, 000 voters. This system does not build consensus, its partisan and in fact a dictatorship of the minority. As Emma godman once said. “If voting changed anything they would outlaw it”.

  2. Sean McGuinness // October 28, 2019 at 11:38 PM // Reply

    At some point, one may wonder if Elmer Fudd, standing as the conservative candidate in this riding, could get elected. There is definitely a sector of the populace whose mindset is tough to pry open. I mean, try canvassing door to door for a day. Unfortunately, because of this, there have been some really top-notch people who have come and gone. One can talk about disaffection with Ottawa, pipelines, or whatever. The electoral process? It has become a gong show. Democracy as it stands is failing us because it has become tainted by irrelevant side issues, buffoonery, scandal mongering, ideological posturing, greed, over-weaned egos, etc.. No, the voter is not always “right” if “right” means tackling poverty, inequality, and the demise of our environment. But even if a lot of voters did the right thing, we don’t even have a system where every vote counts. Sadly, this election has done nothing to assail one of the greatest problems we face: climate change. I would gladly replace our elected PM with that 16 year old Swedish wunderkind who speaks more sense in one sentence than all the volumes of dribble printed in Hansard.

  3. On the other side of the coin—in 2015 it was the Trudeau/Liberal red surge at the end of the extra long campaign that allowed McLeod to come up the middle and get elected again—otherwise the NDP would have been the outright winner. What goes around—comes around.
    On a positive note this will undoubtedly be McLeod’s last term–she will have nearly 20 years as the MP for Kamloops Thompson Cariboo—she will sit in obscurity in the far backbenches of the Conservative opposition, unable to score any points for her riding or her party back home. The next Conservative candidate for KTC will not be an incumbent which will level the playing field significantly.
    Also there may be severe disaffection towards Ottawa and the born with-a-silver-spoon-in-his mouth Prime Minister but do not include BC in the Wexit agenda of the self-serving right wing governments of Alberta and Saskatchewan.

  4. There were two things people maybe considered with the Liberal candidate:
    – had we become fatigued with being told that a fellow in Ottawa was speaking for all Canadians?
    – had Mr. Lake brought any baggage with him from previous times in political office?

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