As one election ends, another begins

Conservatives win minority government with 124 seats, Liberal Milliken takes local riding

Newly re-elected Peter Milliken speaks to the media at his victory party.
Newly re-elected Peter Milliken speaks to the media at his victory party.

The East Ballroom of the Ambassador Hotel erupted in applause last night when it was confirmed Peter Milliken had been re-elected as the MP for Kingston and the Islands.

Milliken, who won with 45.86 per cent of the vote, seemed content about his local victory.

“I want to express my appreciation to all of the voters of Kingston and the Islands who have re-elected me and my peers,” Milliken told the crowd of supporters during his speech. “It’s a job I have enjoyed very much for many years now.”

Liberal enthusiasm was dimmed, however, when the Tories—as predicted by political pundits—won the plurality of votes Canada-wide. With 124 of 308 seats, the Conservative party will form the next government as a minority. The Liberals obtained 103 seats, the Bloc Québécois 51 and the NDP 29. One seat went to Independent André Arthur in the Portneuf-Jacques Cartier riding, near Québec City.

Earlier that evening, around 9:30 p.m., an element of expectancy and excitement hung in the Ambassador Ballroom alongside dozens of red balloons.

Bob Mosier, a campaign worker and Kingston resident, said Milliken was a shoo-in to win the riding.

“This is the safest seat in Canada,” he said. “[Milliken] is a guy that never forgets his constituents.”

As red-clad Liberal supporters crowded around two TVs broadcasting the early election results, Milliken told the Journal he did not feel particularly nervous that evening.

“I think [the campaign] went reasonably well, thank you,” he said, eyeing the election results as they were being broadcast.

Marilla McCargar, ArtSci ’07 and president of the Queen’s University Liberal Association, said she believes the Liberals promote values shared by Canadian youth.

“For me, it’s important as a young, progressive Canadian to support the Liberals,” McCargar said. “I think it’s the obvious party to be supporting.”

Amanda Milliken, Peter’s sister, agreed.

“I am proud to be supporting my brother,” she said. “I admire him.”

Milliken’s sister added that as always, her older brother has done well.

“He works hard in this riding,” she said. “He is widely admired, and he should be.”

McCargar said about 20 students from the Queen’s organization attended the night’s festivities.

Neil Williams, ArtSci ’08 and a Liberal supporter, said he helped Milliken’s campaign by canvassing the Ghetto.

“I am here to celebrate the hard work that has been put into this campaign,” he said.

McCargar said she felt student voter apathy wasn’t an issue yesterday.

“We were out canvassing the campus today and a large percentage of students had already voted,” she said. “I have seen the statistics on student voter apathy, but personally, [I found] the students are out. Students are very motivated to vote and have done so.”

As she spoke, supporters joined in a round of applause as news of Milliken’s victory in this riding was confirmed.

When asked what he thought about the then-probable Conservative minority government, Milliken said he is looking forward to it.

“Criticize the government to your heart’s content,” he said. “It’s always fun to be the Opposition.”

Milliken said the Conservatives would have to tailor their policies to get majority support in the House.

“There could be a fair bit of compromise,” he said. “It’s hard to say what changes will actually be here.”

John Clements, Milliken’s campaign manager, said the campaign was unusual because it boiled down to three weeks in January.

“Locally, it was a weird campaign,” he said. “Everything was compressed. There was a sense of urgency.”

Mayor Harvey Rosen, who also attended the event, said he thinks the Conservatives are going to have a difficult time forming the next government.

“They’re going to be in a minority position,” he said. “They are going to have to demonstrate a considerable amount of flexibility, which has not been their strength in the past.”

Milliken said student participation in elections is very important.

“I [campaigned] when I was a student, and I loved it,” he said. “That’s a message that more students ought to hear, because getting involved at an early age, I think, makes a huge difference.”

Peggy Milliken, Peter’s mother, said she was happy with her son’s outcome.

“I am very proud of him. He absolutely loves his job.”

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