In the span of less than three years, Arielle Kayabaga has made successful debuts in both municipal and federal politics, with the latest campaign launching a jump from city hall to the House of Commons.
London’s Ward 13 councillor allowed the Liberals to maintain their hold on London West following a close race that wasn’t called until hours after polls closed.
In March, when incumbent Liberal MP Kate Young announced she would not seek re-election, London West was predicted to be a battleground riding in the 44th general election.
On election night, early results saw the lead bounce back and forth by only a small margin between the Liberals and Conservatives before the reigning party widened the gap.
By early Tuesday, Kayabaga had secured 36.4 per cent of the vote for the Liberals based on 99.5 per cent of polls in the riding.
Conservative candidate Rob Flack trailed behind with 32.2 per cent of the vote, while NDP candidate Shawna Lewkowitz came third with 25 per cent of the vote.
While London West had received considerable coverage as a battleground riding, Kayabaga says it wasn’t something that weighed on her.
“Maybe that’s part of being a rookie in campaigns. I didn’t feel the pressure, I was just excited to connect with every single voter and make sure that their priorities are being represented at every single turn,” said Kayabaga.
“The most important conversation tonight is that London West wants a mandate that moves Canadians forward, and wants a mandate that fights for climate action, for $10 child care for women, to support small businesses to get back to work, and access to housing for everyone”
Kayabaga is expected to take her first federal seat at a House of Commons that will see the Liberals hold a minority government, which is something she feels prepared to navigate.
“The best training I got for that was being on city council and I will continue to use the same skills that I use to work together with everyone, with the same goal of helping Canadians and moving Canadians forward,” Kayabaga said.
As for her seat on city council, the Ward 13 councillors says “we’ll have to figure that out in the next coming days.”
Lewkowitz, the NDP candidate for London West, took to Twitter early Tuesday morning to congratulate Kayabaga.
“I will have more to say in the coming days,” Lewkowitz added in another tweet posted minutes later.
“I couldn’t be prouder of the full-hearted team that believed so clearly that better was possible I am deeply grateful for every supporter & volunteer here in (London West) and beyond.”