It’s too blue to be true for all three Conservative incumbents in Regina as they held on to their seats in Canada’s 44th federal election.
Less than two hours after polls closed across Saskatchewan, Conservatives Andrew Scheer, Michael Kram and Warren Steinley were projected to cinch wins.
For the one riding expected to be so close it might have taken the counting of mail in ballots over the coming days to declare a winner, Regina—Lewvan NDP candidate Tria Donaldson ended up giving an emotional concession speech.
“As an Indigenous person, there were so many people who had never felt seen by their government or someone who was running who reached out to me to tell me they were voting for the first time,” she said with tears in her eyes.
“I’m going to carry that with me. It’s going to give me the motivation to keep fighting.”
Earlier in the evening Donaldson said the race was still too close to call as she optimistically addressed media outside her office shortly after 9:30 p.m.
But as 11 p.m. neared, Steinley’s lead was undeniable with a total of 15,884 votes to Donaldson’s 11,488 and only 15 polls left to report.
By almost midnight, Steinley lead with 18,311 votes (47.7 per cent of reported votes) with Donaldson trailing with 13,152 votes and only nine more polls to be reported.
As the granddaughter of a residential school survivor, Donaldson said running was an honour her ancestors never would have imagined.
She said she knew she was facing an uphill battle going against an incumbent, but is happy with her team’s efforts, which she views as the first step to getting elected.
“I always thought that this would be a two-campaign race. One campaign to build and the second to win,” she said. “I will be running again.”
Steinley was unreachable despite many attempts by the Leader-Post to get comment from the incumbent throughout the day.
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Close to midnight, Scheer maintained a resounding lead over the other candidates, with 62.6 per cent of recorded votes — a total of 19,547 — and just four more polls to report.
Kram was settled in the lead with 47.4 per cent of recorded votes — a total of 12,176 — and 16 polls left to report.
Scheer addressed reporters after winning his race, thanking Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole despite the party’s second-place finish in the seat count.
He accused Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau of dividing regions while ignoring Saskatchewan’s interests. He said the Conservative caucus — whether 13 or 14 strong — will push back.
“I will always put the priorities of this province first and foremost, always fight against the attacks on Saskatchewan and Western Canada,” Scheer said.
He later told Postmedia that the results in Saskatchewan are a sign that voters are “sick and tired of the double standards, the attacks and the outright hostility from this Liberal government.”
Donaldson and Steinley went up against Liberal candidate Susan Cameron, Green Party candidate Michael Wright and People’s Party of Canada (PCC) candidate Roderick Kletchko.
“What I can say is, ‘Wow! Elections are hard.’ As a first-time candidate, I knew that, but now I really know that,” said Cameron from her campaign office Monday evening. “I have even more respect for all the other candidates here and also across the country who put their name forward and being part of this whole process. I’m more appreciative of it all.”
“Despite the election outcome, it’s still a great day,” said Liberal candidate for Regina—Wascana Sean McEachern who fell short of the votes needed to unseat Kram.
McEachern and his wife Meghan celebrated their 13th wedding anniversary on Monday.
Although he lost his riding, McEachern said it’s good to see the Liberals form government again.
“As a long-time Liberal supporter and someone who has been involved with the party for years, I’m happy to see that result,” he said from Regina’s DoubleTree Hotel where he waited for results with volunteers. “I am a little bit sad that maybe Saskatchewan will once again have 14 Conservative MPs representing them, if that’s the way it pans out.”
“But it is what it is. We move on and we continue to work in the community and we’ll build back better next time for another campaign and we’ll see what happens then,” he added.
As Kram celebrated his win, he also criticized Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau’s decision to spark an early election, calling it unnecessary and noting politicians’ time could have been better spent on other issues like the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Justin Trudeau called an unsafe, unnecessary election because of his own personal ambition to achieve a majority. We deprived him of that,” said Kram from his campaign office Monday night where small bunches of blue and white helium balloons dotted the room and blue linens dressed the tables.
Supporters watched the TVs attentively as results began pouring in — results Kram said proves that his success in 2019, when he unseated longtime MP Ralph Goodale, was not just a fluke.
“But I think it’s evident based on the results on TV, that because of all of the hard work of the people in this room, Regina—Wascana is firmly in the blue column,” Kram said to the cheers and applause of his few dozen supporters gathered in his constituency office.
McEachern and Kram ran against Green Party candidate Victor Lau, NDP candidate Erin Hidlebaugh and PPC candidate Mario Milanovski.
In Regina—Qu’Appelle, Scheer battled it out with Liberal candidate Cecilia Melanson, NDP candidate Annaliese Bos, Naomi Hunter of the Green Party of Canada and PPC candidate Andrew Yubeta.
Polls closed at 7:30 p.m. across Saskatchewan, marking the end of a whirlwind campaign for federal election candidates that call Regina home.
Results began trickling in a little after 8 p.m. for the Queen City’s three ridings — and within a half hour, CBC and CTV had already given the win nationally to the Liberals.
The evening looked different, as it has in the province’s last two pandemic elections — provincial and municipal. The usual large party-supporter gatherings typically abuzz with anticipation gave way to more modest events limited to volunteers and party members in many cases due to the pandemic.
— with files from Arthur White-Crummey, Alec Salloum, Lynn Giesbrecht and Rob Vanstone