It wasn’t a shocker that Federal Conservative Party incumbent Earl Dreeshen was re-elected to his fourth term with a landslide 80.2 per cent of votes in the Red Deer-Mountain View riding.
The lopsided result — NDP candidate Logan Garbanewski came in a distant second with 7.4 per cent support — actually tipped further in Dreeshen’s favour since he previously held three-quarters of the votes in the riding in the past three federal elections.
Long before his latest win was unofficially called, supporters in the low-key crowd that gathered at Longrider’s saloon in Red Deer as the votes were counted Monday night came by to shake Dreeshen’s hand, or pat him on the shoulder to offer congratulations.
The farmer-turned-politician said he’s always thankful to be returned to office. “I am very honoured to represent this constituency, and I will continue to work hard” to bring local concerns to Ottawa’s attention, he added.
His party didn’t do as well as hoped for across the country. But Dreeshen said he continues to stand behind Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer: “He’s a fantastic leader. I support him 100 per cent.”
Having the Federal Liberals re-elected as a minority government is “frustrating,” admitted Dreeshen, since the Tory campaign was based on helping the average Canadian get ahead, financially.
But he maintains the Conservatives will continue to hold the Liberals accountable: “It’s our responsibility to do that.”
The SNC-Lavalin scandal, in which re-elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was accused of trying to interfere with the judicial process, will continue to be a big legal issue: “It hasn’t been dealt with,” he added.
And Dreeshen said he will continue to push for pipelines to bring in oil revenues that help build Canadian hospitals, schools and pay for other social infrastructure across the nation.
The MP is concerned NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has indicated he’ll be happy to work with the Liberals to get bills passed. “Federally, the NDP has been no friend of Alberta,” said Dreeshen.
While it’s too early to predict what will happen with the Trans-Mountain Pipeline or other proposals to get Alberta’s oil to overseas markets, Dreeshen believes most other political parties will be trying to “keep our natural resources in the ground,” while allowing oil imports from less scrupulous countries.
“I personally don’t see the appeal of the Liberals, but never-the-less, it is what it is …”
Garbanewski, a Red Deer College education student, was pleased with his team’s performance in the election campaign. He said he put in a lot of miles, door-knocking, learned a lot, and heard a lot of concerns expressed about such issues as rural crime.
As the only openly bisexual candidate in the local race, Garbanewski was also pleased to also hear some positive comments about being a good representative for LGBTQ issues.
Early in the evening, he felt things looked promising for his party — even in terms of gaining some clout in working with a minority Liberal government to get “progressive” policies passed.
When asked what this would mean, in terms of new pipelines to get Alberta’s oil to overseas markets, Garbanewski said he wasn’t sure at this time. But he said, “We will work to ensure that everybody’s rights and opinions are respected at the end of the day.”
Paul Mitchell for People’s Party, Gary Tremblay for the Liberal Party, and Conner Borlé for the Green Party also ran in the riding that stretches from the southern half of Red Deer nearly to Airdrie. It also includes Delburne and Elnora to the east, and all the way west, past Sundre, into the Rocky Mountain foothills.