It’s a second term as Delta’s MP for Liberal Carla Qualtrough.
After all 189 polls in Delta had reported in Monday night (Oct. 21), Qualtrough sat in the lead with 21,9696 votes, well ahead of Conservative Tanya Corbet’s 17,638. NDP candidate Randy Anderson-Fennell finished third with 8,654 votes, followed by the Green Party’s Craig DeCraene (3,310), People’s Party of Canada’s Angelina Ireland (937), and independent candidates Amarit Bains and Tony Bennett (397 and 383, respectively).
Qualtrough, who has served in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet from day one — most recently as minister of public services and procurement and accessibility, was one of 157 Liberal candidates elected across Canada on Monday night; enough to secure the party a minority government but 13 short of the 170 seats needed for a majority in the 338-seat House of Commons.
The Conservative Party won the second most seats (121), followed by the Bloc Québécois (32), NDP (24) and Green Party (3). The final seat was won by former Liberal cabinet minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, who was re-elected as an independent.
In the previous federal election in 2015, the Liberals emerged with a solid majority — 184 seats to the Conservatives’ 99, with the NDP winning 44 seats, the Bloc Québécois 10 and the Green Party one.
Addressing a few dozen people at her North Delta campaign office after being declared the winner on Monday night, a jubilant Qualtrough was initially at a loss for words.
“I actually don’t know what to say Delta,” Qualtrough said to start her acceptance speech. “I want to start though, by thanking all the other candidates who put their names forward. It isn’t an easy thing to do, but it’s really important and it’s what makes our democracy strong.
“And we want to pause and pay tribute to my fellow Liberal candidates who weren’t re-elected. We lost some good people tonight, and we are going to do them proud by continuing to move this country forward in a way that includes everyone.”
Qualtrough thanked her family, staff and volunteers for all their hard work during the campaign and for always believing in her and Liberal leader Justin Trudeau.
“I have been a part of a lot of teams, and you know my background in sport, and I can tell you this is one of the best teams — probably the best team — I have ever been a part of. Every single one of you made this happen,” the former Paralympian told the crowd. “Every athlete that has stood on a podium knows that you don’t get there alone, and behind every successful win is a massive army of people, of coaches, of volunteers, of supporters, and we had that in spades this time in Delta.”
Qualtrough spoke about the negative tone this election took at times with misinformation and mud-slinging, saying her party choosing “time and time again to take the high road” paid off in the end.
“Because you know what Delta wants? They want someone who believes that we can make this world a better place. They don’t want someone who tears people down or cuts services; they want a progressive government that invests in people and invests in communities, and you all know that for the next four years I’m going to make darn sure that we invest in Delta.”
After her speech, Qualtrough told the North Delta Reporter she was excited and proud to get to serve as Delta’s member of Parliament for another four years.
“I’m excited that, doing it for a second time, how much better we’re going to be able to do it. You know, we’ve learned so much and we’re not new to this anymore and we’ve got systems and a great team in place and we can just hit the ground running,” she said.
“I look forward to picking up where we left off. Like, we don’t have to build anything and we’ve got our team in place, we’ve got our systems in place, and we’ve got some really neat ideas about how we can even do things better now that we’ve done this before.”
Qualtrough said she and her staff spend a lot of time helping people access government services, and after four years in office they have the systems in place and the relationships in government to do that better than they could in 2015.
“People come to their MP usually when they’re at the end of their rope. They’ve been banging their head against the wall for six months and I think we really quickly can help people now. Quicker than we could four years ago because we’ve got it figured out.”
Of course, things in Ottawa won’t be quite what they were 42 days ago when the election was called, as the Liberal minority government will need the support of at least one opposition party to win the confidence of the house and pass legislation.
Qualtrough said she isn’t sure exactly how the new minority government will work, but she looks forward to being part of the team that figures it out.
“I think Canada has definitely said we want a progressive government moving forward and we’re going to have to work together to figure out what that looks like. I mean, that’s the message I got tonight,” she said.
“I look forward to figuring out the minority government thing, what that means for Delta, what that means for Canada, what that means for Carla. But I think it’ll be good.”
Qualtrough also spoke to the difference between this year’s campaign and her first run for MP in 2015.
“First of all, Delta knew me more this time. I was really the newbie, I didn’t have a high profile personally going into 2015. We spent a lot of time in 2015 introducing Carla to Delta. And this time it was more talking about what I wanted to do moving forward and how I want to serve our community.
“And quite frankly, in 2015 there was also the desire for change in the country and so there was the kind of Justin Trudeau aura around my campaign that we didn’t have this time. This time we were government, we were being held to account for the things we did or didn’t do, and that was different.”
As well, she said there was a lot more misinformation circulating than last time around.
“We spent a lot of time as a team, you know, getting rid of all the noise and telling people what was the truth and what we were actually going to do,” Qualtrough said. “Four years later, different world, right?”
Qualtrough said she was surprised by how many people she spoke with during this election wanted answers about issues that do not fall under the federal government’s purview.
“It surprised me how very clearly Deltans believe that the federal government is involved with the price of gas. I know that sounds really silly, but I spent so much time at the doors explaining to people that the federal government really doesn’t, in any way, is not implicated in gas pricing.
“It’s a bigger picture around affordability for sure that we’re involved in, but there was a lot of things that are happening on the ground that are not within the federal government’s jurisdiction that we spent a lot of time talking about in this campaign.”
Similarly, the George Massey Tunnel replacement project was a hot topic for voters in Delta.
“At the end of the day it’s a provincial asset, and it became this massively central issue in this campaign in a way that I hadn’t expected,” Qualtrough said. “I spent a lot of time explaining it. … What I will keep confirming is there is federal money for projects exactly like the tunnel replacement, and we just need the provincial government to decide a way forward — which it seems like they may have — and there’s federal money on the table for it. So, I’ve made that pretty clear.”
About three-quarters of Delta’s population — 76,871 out of 103,064 — were registered to vote in the federal election, and slightly more than 69 per cent (53,288) cast a ballot on Monday. That’s higher than the national turnout of nearly 66 per cent, but less than the number who came out in 2015 — (55,889 of 75,044 registered voters, or about 74 per cent).
Just under 18 million of the 27 million registered voters in Canada cast their ballots, according to Elections Canada, and a record-breaking 4.7 million of those votes were cast during advance polling over the Thanksgiving long weekend. That’s about 29 per cent more than the just over 3.6 million advanced voters in 2015.
Qualtrough first won her seat in Parliament in 2015, defeating incumbent Conservative MP Kerry-Lynne Findlay. Qualtrough captured 49.1 per cent of the vote to Findlay’s 32.8 per cent. The NDP’s Jeremy Leveque came in third with 14.9 per cent of the vote, while the Green Party’s Anthony Edward Devellano came in fourth with 3.2 per cent.
— with files from Ashley Wadhwani and Kendra Crighton