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 ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.