Peace River-Westlock voters made their wishes crystal clear in the Oct. 21 vote. They want a Conservative government in Ottawa and did what they could to make that happen by returning Arnold Viersen to Ottawa.
The MP is idling on the road waiting for the green light in a construction zone when reached on the morning after the election. So he has time to chat.
“I’m overwhelmed with the response here at home,” Viersen says, speaking of his landslide victory. “I’m really thankful.”
On the national scene, things didn’t turn out as well for his party, which finished in second place to the Liberals.
“Obviously I was hoping for a strong, stable Conservative government,” he says.
However, Viersen says picking up 20 or so seats in parliament is a positive sign, and “we’ll continue to push forward.”
Viersen won a whopping 80.8 per cent of the vote (41,159) in the riding, which didn’t leave much for anybody else. NDP candidate Jennifer Villebrun, who “never set foot in the riding” as far as Viersen knows, got 3,805 votes for second place. Liberal Leslie Penny had 3,602, John Schrader of the People’s Party 1,569 and the Green Party’s Peter Nygaard was fifth with 1,350 votes.
By comparison, Viersen got 69 per cent of the vote in 2015, and the other parties proportionally more than this time. The order of finish was the same, excluding the People’s Party, which didn’t exist four years ago.
So what happens now?
“I still don’t know when we’ll be called back,” Viersen says. “Justin Trudeau will be negotiating a coalition now, I imagine. He won’t recall the house until that’s done.”
In the meantime, Viersen’s team will be cleaning up their campaign signs (there are an awful lot of them) and getting back into regular business of representing constituents. Asked about that, Viersen characterized it as continuing to advocate “for forestry, agriculture and the oilpatch, and doing everything we can to prevent the carbon tax from coming in on January 1.”