THE MORE THINGS change, the more they stay the same.
Frank Caputo of the Conservative Party has been elected in the riding of Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo. He had a decisive win, taking 43% of the votes counted, compared to his closest opponent NDP Bill Sundhu with 29% of the votes.
His margin of victory mirrors his Conservative predecessor’s margin of victory, when MP Cathy McLeod earned 45% of the vote compared to Liberal candidate Terry Lake with 27% of the vote. The NDP came out further ahead than the Liberals in this election, but neither party took a dent out of the Conservative base.
It may seem like a pointless election, given that there wasn’t a big shift locally, or nationally. But what’s more important than who won one riding or another, is the fact that the voters won at democracy.
COVID and wildfires might be hinderances but, in the end, voters came out to cast their ballots.
Often, Canada Day festivities at Riverside Park are considered the biggest event in Kamloops. Pre-pandemic, 30,000 or more showed up every year to celebrate.
But it is democracy itself, not the day set aside to celebrate it, when we show up in greatest numbers. Even with voter turnout down slightly in this election, over 64,000 of 104,000 eligible voters cast their ballots in the Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo riding. People show up to celebrate in huge numbers, but even more than double that came out to vote.
I spent some time talking to voters this election, and at a poll on voting day. Here were a few takeaways.
First, voters value the opportunity to vote. I spoke to a voter whose spouse had died just a few weeks before, and yet took the time to vote. Still in grief, they still took the time.
Second, voters vote even if they know their candidate may not win. People want their vote counted, regardless of the outcome.
Third, voters take time out of their day. There was the heavy equipment operator, still in their dirty overalls, a fitness instructor with their gym jacket on, and the fast-food worker in their uniform all making time at the end of their days to show up and vote.
Fourth, voters have extraordinary patience. Line up here. Show your identification there. Line up again. Stand behind this line. Show your voter card there. Step by step, the voters at the poll waited patiently for their chance to vote.
Finally, voters are all types of people. There was a mother with their teenager in tow. A young person with long hair and rock band t-shirt. An older couple looking a bit worn out. Every type of person showed up at the poll.
There is almost nothing else we do that encompasses so many people who live in Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo as voting. It is extraordinary that we all cared so much to show up and vote to help define our future government.
To the winner, Frank Caputo, congratulations. May you work as hard for your constituents as your predecessor Cathy McLeod. May you listen to both those who voted for you and those who voted against you. To the candidates who ran but were not successful, thank you for your efforts. You raised concerns of others, championed their causes, and helped us all build a better country.
Finally, a special thanks to Elections Canada. Before the voting day on September 20, they had special polls at extended care homes in Kamloops. A friend of mine told me how at the place they live, the Elections Canada staff went room to room to ensure all of the residents knew that the poll was happening and had the opportunity to vote. That even those most shut in were given the chance vote shows how much we value democracy.
Candidates run, but voters make it happen. Thanks to everyone who got out to vote.
Nancy Bepple is a former City councillor of Kamloops with a strong interest in community building projects.