Increased presence in House for NDP

Rob Hutchison (right) congratulates a supporter on a job well done.
Rob Hutchison (right) congratulates a supporter on a job well done.
Jon Wilinofsky

NDP leader Jack Layton’s plea to Canadians to “lend him their votes” paid off for the party last night.

“I’ve got money on over 30 [seats],” exclaimed an enthusiastic supporter of Rob Hutchison as he rallied to support the NDP at the Queen’s Inn on Brock Street on election night.

This prediction fell just short of the mark, as the New Democratic Party finished the election with a gain of 10 seats for a total of 29 representatives in the House of Commons. Approximately 100 people gathered with Hutchison, the NDP candidate for Kingston and the Islands, to watch the CBC election coverage. Most attendees donned checkered flannel shirts and baseball caps and enjoyed a pint as the numbers rolled in. Peter Mansbridge’s voice mingled with shouts spurred by the Leafs-Senators hockey game as Hutchison circulated through the crowd gathered in the homey inn’s bar, shaking hands and navigating around a pool table.

As the polls closed, Hutchison moved to the front of the room to address the crowd.

“We won the public schools,” Hutchison said, referring to the mock elections held by local schools. He identified the NDP’s stance on same-sex marriage as the deciding factor for Kingston’s youth.

Unfortunately for Hutchison, this was the only victory he would see on election night.

“The NDP would have given better representation to Kingston,” Hutchison told the Journal, referring to his loss to Liberal incumbent Peter Milliken. “Liberals had 12 years to deliver ... Milliken is personally popular and people get used to voting for him.” Despite Hutchison’s loss, he said he was pleased with the NDP’s results in the election.

“We worked hard. We had a good campaign and an excellent platform,” Hutchison said, identifying health care and education as the key election issues his party addressed.

Chris Horkins, ArtSci ’04 and president of Queen’s NDP, echoed Hutchison’s sentiments about the NDP’s success in this election.

“It looks like a big improvement from the last time around,” Horkins said as he enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere of the Queen’s Inn with fellow Queen’s NDP members.

“Rob’s looking at about 21 per cent [of Kingston and the Islands’ total votes], which is a big improvement from last time. We’re chipping away at Peter Milliken’s lead.” Although the number of NDP seats increased from 19 in 2004 to 29, Hutchison said he was concerned by the significant number of seats now occupied by Conservatives and members of the Bloc Quebecois.

“The threat to the country is Tories trying to make a deal with the Bloc that deeply compromises the federation,” Hutchison said. “As a federalist party, we’re very concerned about that.”

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