While newly re-elected Member of Parliament Rob Merrifield was surprised at a majority government, he said the best years lie ahead for all Canadians.
Final results for the 2011 general election in the Yellowhead riding were: Merrifield, 31,780 votes for 77.1 per cent of the total vote; NDP candidate Mark Wells, 5,383 votes for 13.1 per cent of the total vote; Green Party candidate Monika Schaefer, 2,123 votes for 5.1 per cent of the total vote; Liberal candidate Zack Seizmagraff, 1,180 for 2.9 per cent of the total vote; Christian Heritage Party candidate Jacob Strydhorst, 402 votes for one per cent of the final vote; and Canadian Action Party candidate Melissa Brade, 371 votes for 0.9 per cent of the final vote.
A total of 41,239 of a possible 74,036 voters cast ballots in the election, for a voter turnout of 55.7 per cent. That’s five per cent higher than the previous election, and while it’s an improvement, it’s still quite low, Merrifield said.
“It was a great election,” Merrifield said. “The week leading up to election day, there wasn’t a poll I saw that had us in a majority government. I was optimistic, but I was also very nervous, because I had to believe those polls. Thank goodness they were wrong.”
As the night progressed and the Conservatives secured 130 seats with much of Alberta and British Columbia to come in, Merrifield knew his party was going to have the majority. At that point, he said he started feeling a little easier, but no one could have forecasted this kind of win.
“It’s a solid win and we’re humbled by it,” he said. “Now we can implement our budget and move Canada forward in a very progressive way.”
The largest challenge Merrifield said he has heard throughout the course of the campaign is the lack of human resources. He said Canada is growing its way out of the recession, and agriculture, oil, gas and tourism are all doing well, but there aren’t enough people to fill the number of available jobs.
Merrifield is also the minister directly responsible for railways, and he said he is working to ensure the relationship between railways and the shippers are balanced.
With a majority government, Merrifield said the Conservatives can now pass the budget, and added the budget belongs to Canadians.
“We asked for the input of Canadians through pre-budget consultations, and all the information went into a budget that was accepted by union groups, exporters and manufacturers,” Merrifield said. “From right to left, everyone saw this budget as being the right thing. Two things I heard through the election was we need to make sure we looked after the labour market and capitalize on the international markets, and we also have to get back into the black and balance our books.
“We had some good news about halfway through the election where we grew by $12 billion more that we had forecasted. That’s a very good sign we are coming out of this recession. The opposition, no matter what party, had a game plan to raise taxes, and we felt that was the wrong decision. There was a stark difference in directions, and Canadians chose the right path.”
Merrifield said now that the country has settled down, and there won’t be another election for four and a half years, the government can concentrate on running the country.
“I believe the best years are ahead of us.”