Mark Strahl said it was the strong local Conservative support that got him elected as Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon’s newest member of Parliament Monday night.
In an interview with The Observer Tuesday morning, Strahl answered questions about both his party’s and his family’s history in the area. He also spoke about the major shift in politics, and where the Liberals may have gone wrong.
Voters in Agassiz “share Conservative values” and are “folks who believe in fiscal policy,” he said. They also want the government to be “tough on crime and have a family-friendly policy,” he said. “Our platform delivers that in spades.”
He agreed that the Tory pathway was laid in this riding by his father, Chuck Strahl, who held the seat here since 1993.”I think Chuck left a very positive legacy, and I think myself or anyone else who would have been the candidate would have benefitted from his time in politics here,” Strahl said.
And if there was an edge to being a family member of a popular politician, it was a double-edge, he added.
“The fact that I share his name, well, I took a lot of slings and arrows for it,” Strahl said. “And that was expected.”
While Strahl won the seat easily, the NDP gained more support than they’d had in the past here.
Gwen O’Mahony earned 12,665 votes, while Strahl earned 28,153 of the 49,189 votes.
In a distant third was Diane Janzen for the Liberals, with 5,317 votes. Green candidate Jamie Hoskins earned 2,701.
Two smaller fringe parties also ran in this election. The Western Block Party ran Clive Edwards, earning 180 votes, and the Marxist-Leninist Party ran with Dorothy-Jean O’Donnell, with 173 votes. (Total numbers available at press time Tuesday.)
The election led to a major shift in Canadian politics, despite a record low voter turnout.
The Liberal Party lost more than 40 seats throughout Canada, and the NDP swooped in where both the Conservatitives and the Bloc Quebecois failed to woo voters. Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff has since announced he will step down, the Bloc has crumpled and the NDP is in a solid Opposition.
Strahl said the shift in Liberal voters thinking may be because they lost their identity, and Ignatieff “didn’t catch on with Canadians.”
“But I think the problems with the party go beyond the leader,” he said.
“We’ve been there before, with the Conservative movement. They are going to have to rebuild.”
Previous Liberal Canadians turned to other parties to place their votes because they were looking for parties with “defined principles,” he said. “They know where the Conservatives stand, and where the NDP stands. The Liberals had been all over the map.”
But the Tories still weren’t expecting such a solid majority, Strahl said.
“If anyone was predicting at all, it was going to be one or two seats,” he said. The Conservatives now hold 12 more seats than needed to hold a majority government, the first time the Conservatives have done so.
“I think Canadians took a sober second look at the NDP and a lot of people who were maybe flirting with the NDP swung over to us,” he said.
It will be a few weeks before Strahl is sworn into office, after Elections Canada finalizes numbers across the country.
“Right now we’re just getting cleaned up here and awaiting the next step,” he said. “There’s not a whole lot to do until I get sworn in, but I can’t wait to get started.”