INNISFAIL – Red Deer-Mountain View riding MP Earl Dreeshen has won his fifth consecutive federal election.
However, his impressive ongoing winning streak was soured not only by Justin Trudeau’s Liberals claiming their third straight win, with the last two, including last week's, by a minority, but also a significant drop of about 30 per cent in support from all votes cast compared with 2019.
Final results recap
Elections Canada was reporting by the end of last week that the Liberals had won 159 seats and the Conservatives 119. The Bloc Québécois had 33 and the NPD 25 while the Green Party of Canada had two. The Liberals needed to win 170 seats to form a majority in the House of Commons.
Support for Dreeshen in the Sept. 20 election also waned substantially from the last time Albertans went to the ballot stations in 2019.
As per official figures posted online by Elections Canada with all of the riding's 263 polls reporting, Dreeshen’s total vote of valid ballots dropped to 64.2 per cent in 2021 from 80.3 per cent in 2019.
In 2019, there were 68,447 votes cast in the riding from a total of 90,857 listed electors representing a voter turnout of about 75 per cent. Dreeshen at the time had received 54,765 votes.
In this election, there was a 70.75 per cent turnout with 63,325 total votes in the riding from a total of 89,505 listed electors. Dreeshen received 40,634 votes, a difference of 14,131 votes or a decrease of almost 30 per cent compared with 2019.
Meanwhile, the NDP’s Marie Grabowski came in second place with 8,820 votes, or 13.9 per cent of the valid ballots cast, and the People's Party of Canada candidate Kelly Lorencz came in third place with 7,570 votes, or 12 per cent, to beat Liberal candidate Olumide Adewumi, who finished fourth with 4,145 votes, or 6.5 per cent.
Maverick Party candidate Mark Wilcox ended up fifth with 1,639 votes, or 2.6 per cent. Independent Clayten Willington and Libertarian Party of Canada’s Jared Pilon received 307 and 210 votes respectively, garnering each less than one per cent.
“I am disappointed. There doesn’t seem to be much of a change between what we had at dissolution and what we have right now,” said Dreeshen. “I was really hoping the results would be different but that makes it more important for us to stand up for Alberta and Alberta’s interests and to continue to work hard.”
Although the People’s Party did not win any seats anywhere in the country, they still made an impact. Dreeshen said the People’s Party contributed to vote splitting in many eastern Canadian ridings, which adversely impacted the chances of some Conservatives running there.
“It’s very difficult in that regard. Once again, we see their leader (Maxime Bernier) not winning his seat but causing a number of conservatives to also end up having their seats going to the Liberals,” said Dreeshen.
“It’s frustrating,” he added. “They do have a message and they’ve done what they can and that is what democracy is all about.
“But if the goal was, as many of them have told me, to get rid of this prime minister, they are certainly going about it in a way that is not very effective,” said Dreeshen.
As for the CPC moving forward, he noted there is proof his party is now pan-Canadian, appealing to more citizens across every region of the country.
“We had good support in the Maritimes, good support in Quebec, Ontario and in the west,” said Dreeshen. “So, we are the only pan-Canadian party, and I think that is very critical for us.
“That gives us something to build on to let people know just how we can try to solve some of the problems that we see.”
Parties must earn votes
Responding to comments from Conservatives like Dreeshen about splitting the right wing vote being a strange strategy toward the goal of ousting the Trudeau Liberals, Lorencz spoke frankly.
“We need to get beyond this ‘splitting of the vote’ thing,” he said. “Doesn’t matter who it is — Conservatives or People’s Party or whatever — a party needs to earn your vote. No party is entitled to your vote,” he said.
“So, Mr. Dreeshen and the Conservatives, as far as I’m concerned based off of their platform, didn’t earn that vote from Canadians.”
Citing as an example the CPC’s policy proposal to ban puppy mills, Lorencz said that issue wasn’t top of mind among Canadians’ concerns and demonstrates how disconnected Conservatives have become to what people are most worried about.
“The way Mr. Dreeshen spoke (following the election), it is a sense of entitlement because there’s no way that they’re listening to Canadians and they’re definitely not listening to our frontline workers and their concerns,” he said.
From his perspective, Lorencz said people were motivated to vote out of fear more than their convictions.
“The moment that Canadians or Albertans find the courage to vote based off of their values, rather than out of an emotional fear, we can make changes,” he said.
Overall, he said the People’s Party continues to grow upon the momentum built over the past election.
“I’m proud of Canadians. Regardless of everything, we’re going to stand united and continue to move forward,” he said, also expressing gratitude and pride for his campaign volunteers as well as all of the party’s candidates.
“We will continue to fight and work hard for Canadians working up to the next election.”
Looking ahead, Lorencz said he was going right back to the campaign trail after his name was put forward in the upcoming Alberta senate race.
“I believe in fighting for Alberta and Albertans,” he said.
People's Party base grows
Although there was no purple wave that swept the People’s Party of Canada into power in the fallout of the federal election, the fledging political entity created by Bernier, a former Conservative MP who lost a narrow leadership race to former party leader Andrew Scheer, made some headway.
Undaunted by his electoral defeat, Lorencz sounded during a phone interview just as resolved as ever to continue advancing the party’s cause.
“I don’t see it as a fallout. I see it as a positive — the People’s Party made some great strides ahead,” Lorencz told The Albertan.
“Of course we didn’t achieve the results that we were hoping for. But as a national party, we’ve grown and the numbers that we experienced actually fell in line with what we were expecting.”