Receiving an overwhelming vote of support from Prince George-Peace River residents for the fourth consecutive federal election is a thrilling, yet humbling experience. I not only appreciate your support on election day, but I?m grateful for the ongoing encouragement I receive from you between elections?the kind of support that keeps me going through the often frustrating times in Ottawa.
Naturally, I?m disappointed that the public opinion polls in advance of the election overestimated the number of Canadians that would mark an ?x? next to their Conservative Party candidate. It?s unfortunate that, in the end, so many Canadians capitulated to the Liberal campaign of fear-mongering and negative advertising.
However, it would be a sign of arrogance and ignorance for the Conservative team to not acknowledge our own mistakes throughout the campaign. There were the strategic errors and nonsensical musings that played into the Liberal/NDP fabricated ?hidden agenda? theory.
For many voters, the Conservative Party, at just six months old, was the ?unknown factor? in this election campaign. Therefore, both the media and the electorate were on alert for anything that might fuel their suspicions and fear of the unknown. It was our responsibility to ensure that we ran a campaign that did not provide Canadians with reason to doubt our good intentions. Obviously, we could have done better.
However, despite this room for improvement, we must not forget to celebrate our victory ? and yes, it is a victory. Despite the fact that the Conservative Party of Canada is just six months old and that our leader, Stephen Harper, was just two months into his new job when the election was called, we managed to hold the Liberals to a minority government. That is an accomplishment that cannot be overlooked.
No matter what kind of deals Paul Martin and Jack Layton cook up, the Liberals will not be able to govern as arrogantly and with as little respect for your tax dollars as they have for the past decade. It will be more difficult for them to ignore the issues Conservative MPs bring to Ottawa such as the beef crisis and the softwood lumber dispute.
Though many are concerned that this new minority government situation will hamstring legislative business in Ottawa, I believe that all depends upon the Prime Minister. This is his chance to make good on his promise to address the democratic deficit and counter western alienation by setting a new tone in Parliament with free votes for all legislation except those concerning budgetary matters. The PM has the opportunity?whether he seizes it remains to be seen.
So even if things didn?t turn out the way some of us would have preferred, still we have lots to celebrate this Canada Day. We live in a country that is capable of holding fair, democratic elections where voters have a wide variety of candidates and policies to choose from. And as we celebrate the 137th year since the birth of our nation, we?re entering an historic time. In the months ahead, your elected representatives will have a golden opportunity to overcome voter cynicism by working together for a country we?re all proud to call home.