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ELECTION 2015: What having an opposition MP means for Kamloops

Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS
October 21, 2015 - 3:30 PM

KAMLOOPS - The results of this week’s election was a split between three parties in the Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo riding and now for the first time in seven years, it will have an opposition member of Parliament in Ottawa.

After a tight race between the Conservatives, New Democratic Party and the Liberals, Conservative Cathy McLeod was re-elected for her third term as MP Tuesday, Oct. 19, with 35 per cent of the vote.

Thompson Rivers University political science professor Derek Cook says if there was an official opposition to McLeod in Kamloops, the results might have differed.

“It looked like a vote split and that’s exactly what happened. The Liberals and the NDP basically split the vote. Even though Bill Sundhu (NDP) was a little bit ahead, it was fairly even between the NDP and the Liberals. Had one of them been the main opposition candidate, McLeod would have been defeated,” Cook says, adding if the NDP maintained some momentum nationally the riding could have turned orange.

The Liberals made a decent gain in votes, he says, noting the party didn’t have much of a base to build on and only a few in the riding voted for the party in the last three elections.

“Harper put forward an extremely negative view of people and Canadians and Canadians responded by accepting the Liberal view,” he says, but cautions, “It’s a real problem when McLeod only got 35 per cent of the people behind her."

Cook says those who opposed McLeod did so because they opposed Prime Minister Stephen Harper's policies, which he says Conservative MPs were ‘disciplined’ to follow with party rhetoric and actions.

“All the people in the Prime Minister’s Office who have been telling the Conservative MPs what to do — they’re all gone,” he says. "The MPs haven’t had a chance to express their independent thought; they’ve been extremely disciplined. More disciplined than any other group of elected people in government. Now that Harper’s gone, we’ll have to see what happens. Now McLeod may have to make up her own mind."

The last time the riding had a Conservative opposition MP was Betty Hinton in 2000. Before that, NDP Nelson Riis was at the helm for 20 years. To make sure the riding’s demands are heard in Ottawa, Cook says it’s a matter of the MP learning the difference between formal and informal politics.

“Everyone knows McLeod’s a hard worker,” he says. "She’s not used to getting anything for us as an opposition MP; she’s used to getting it as a member of the Parliament. There’s a formal politics and an informal politics in Ottawa, so she’d better learn the informal power structure there pretty quick."

To read McLeod’s reaction to her win, click here.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Glynn Brothen at gbrothen@infonews.ca, or call 250-319-7494. To contact the editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015
InfoTel News Ltd

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