BARRHEAD-WESTLOCK - Incumbent Arnold Viersen swept aside the competition in the 2021 federal election yet again, easily securing more than 60 per cent of the votes cast in the Peace River-Westlock riding to win a third term as MP.
However, the victory was bittersweet, as it became clear by 10:30 p.m. on Monday night that the Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) would not earn a majority government.
“It’s frustrating. We had an opportunity to get rid of Justin Trudeau as the Prime Minister; he called this vanity election because he wanted a majority, and it looks like Canadians have not given that to him,” said Viersen on election night. “But yeah, we were certainly hoping for a change in government.”
Having said that, Viersen added the Conservatives are ready to hold the Liberal government to account.
While there are still some votes to be counted in the Peace River-Westlock riding as of 10:30 p.m., Viersen had secured more than 63 per cent of the votes counted by that point.
That left NDP candidate Gail Ungstad and People’s Party of Canada (PPC) candidate Darryl Boisson in a battle for second place, while Liberal Party candidate Leslie Penny and Maverick Party candidate Colin Krieger fought for fourth. Green Party candidate Jordan MacDougall came in last.
On the national scene, it will take a few days to count up almost a million mail-in votes, so a final total will not be known until Wednesday, Sept. 22, at the earliest.
However, the polls as of 10:30 p.m. suggested that the Liberals would fall short of the 170 seats necessary to form a majority government, and would instead have a result closer to the 155 seats they held prior to calling the election.
Polling numbers suggested the Conservatives and Bloc Québécois were set to finish out with roughly the same number of seats they had prior to the election, the NDP were on track to make a small gain.
While the Green Party of Canada had managed to win at least one seat, their vote total was halved in comparison to 2019, while the PPC managed to increase their share of the vote by a few percentage points. (They still did not have enough votes to win a seat, however.)
Viersen said polling showed that the PPC got about half of their votes from Conservatives and some from the Green Party, while also motivating a bunch of people that typically don’t vote.
“We’ll have to … work on getting those folks back,” Viersen said. “This particular election, they had a very clear ballot (position) around vaccines and I think they made that point around that.”
However, Viersen said he hoped other right-wing voters would come to the realization that they have to work together to elect a true conservative government.
On a final note, Viersen said he was very thankful to people for electing him once again.
“It’s a profound honour to be a Member of Parliament, and it’s something I never take for granted. It’s always humbling to be selected to be the representative in Ottawa.”