NDP falls short of target

Running for office ‘a great honour,’ Downes says

New Democratic Party candidate Rick Downes says he wants to keep incumbent Member of Parliament Peter Milliken honest.
New Democratic Party candidate Rick Downes says he wants to keep incumbent Member of Parliament Peter Milliken honest.

Rick Downes, NDP candidate, lost the federal election race for Kingston and the Islands, winning only 17.46 per cent of the total vote.

As of press time, the New Democratic Party won 18.17 per cent of the Canadian vote and 37 seats in parliament.

Downes said he embraced the opportunity to run again for public office.

“I’ve always wanted to run for federal government. I was late coming into the campaign. ... We had a lot of catch up to do,” he said. “I have a reputation as a good campaigner. It’s hard work. I enjoy meeting people; talking to people; I enjoy it. We made a point of having fun.”

Downes said he has a lot of respect for his competition and their commitment to their campaigns.

“I had three amazing opponents. Peter Milliken, Brian Abrams and Eric Walton were all excellent representatives of their parties. They’re all keenly intelligent. They kept me sharp.”

The NDP campaign strategy for Kingston and the Islands was to expose the public misconceptions surrounding the Conservative party, Downes said.

“I wanted people to make sure that I was running against Stephen Harper and that Stephen Harper is not a red Tory,” he said. “In Kingston there’s a large percentage of red Tories. …They are people who are socially conscious and progressive but they’re fiscally conservative. I wanted to make sure that people knew that [Conservatives] were the Canadian Republican party.”

Downes said he had hoped to win 25 per cent of the votes in Kingston and the Islands.

“I’m not resentful at all with how the ballots were cast. It was an honour to be able to run for the federal parliament of Canada. It’s a great process in a great country.”

Downes said he appreciates the efforts of his campaign team, which managed to come together for the election in a month’s time.

“It was a great campaign without question. We only had 30 days. At the beginning I felt a little bit behind. …At the end of the day, it is what it is and that’s part of the deal,” he said.

Part of the campaign process for the NDP was keeping Peter Milliken accountable, Downes said.

“Part of the process is keeping [Peter Milliken] honest,” he said. “Milliken has been knocked down a bit. That’s part of the process. He has to be more present in Kingston.”

Downes said future plans to run for office are far from his mind at the moment.

“You know I don’t really know what I’m going to have for breakfast tomorrow. I’m not looking ahead,” he said. “There’s a lot of tidy up after the campaign.”

The electoral process in Canada should be valued, Downes said.

“For me to be able to run as a Canadian in a federal election with a modest background is a great privilege and a great honour,” he said. “I’ve run for every political office that’s available to run for in Kingston and the Islands. There’s no one who’s ever done what I’ve done. … I don’t need a title to serve as a community member.”

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