Liberal incumbent Mark Gerretsen has officially secured a third term as member of Parliament for Kingston and the Islands.
As of Tuesday around noon, almost 100 per cent of polls in the riding have been counted, and Gerretsen brought in nearly 41 per cent of the vote, with just over 25,000 ballots in his favour.
“I’m extremely humbled by the support that the community has entrusted in me to go back to Ottawa and to continue to represent their voice, and I’m certainly looking forward to doing that as as soon as possible,” Gerretsen said in an interview Tuesday.
A different election year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Gerretsen said he spent most of Monday evening with his family watching the results come in, rather than at a large reception that would have traditionally been held.
“It’s quite an emotional experience because you see people from all parties that are either losing their seat or retaining their seats,” he said.
For the most part, things remained the same for the Liberal Party, holding a minority government. Despite maintaining the status quo, Gerretsen said he agreed with calling the election last month.
He also said he’s not daunted by the prospect of potentially several more years of working in the minority in Parliament.
“We can work well together with other parties. But I think for the government as well as for all members of Parliament and the opposition, it was important for the electorate to weigh in and say we want to keep moving forward in this direction,” he said.
Although Gerretsen was re-elected again this year, the margin between him and his closest opponent grew smaller than the year before, with NDP candidate Vic Sahai securing just below 30 per cent of the vote, compared to 2019’s runner-up, NDP candidate Barrington Walker, who brought in just over 23 per cent in the previous election.
In fact, everyone else but the Greens did better this time around in Kingston and the Islands than in the last election. Conservative candidate and Kingston city councillor Gary Oosterhof brought in nearly 24 per cent of the vote, compared to a 19.5 per cent showing for the Conservatives in 2019.
People’s Party of Canada candidate Shelley Sayle-Udall received more than 2,100 votes, or a 3.5 per cent share of the votes this year, while Green candidate Waji Khan brought in about 1,500 votes. The PPC brought in only 2.6 per cent of the vote in 2019, while the Greens nearly reached nine per cent that year.
Gerretsen did not speak directly to his opponents creeping up on his total this year, but acknowledged the quality of his fellow candidates.
“I am also acutely aware of the fact that I ran against four great candidates, all who had their own ideas and passions,” Gerretsen said.
Gerretsen, who also served as mayor of Kingston and city councillor, said if this election allowed for one thing, it was the ability to hear the most pressing concerns from his longtime constituents.
“I think that one of the things that came through loud and clear through the last five weeks of knocking on doors is housing affordability in our area, and I mean everything from affordable housing to somebody’s ability to purchase a house,” he said.
Soaring house prices are not just an issue in Kingston, but Gerretsen said he knows it’s a specifically acute issue here, with average house prices rising to nearly $600,000 this year, compared to about $425,000 just a year before.
“We need to make sure that there are options out there that are available, that the process by which people are purchasing houses is one that encourages young people to get into homeownership,” he said.
Gerretsen said he and his team will spend the day Tuesday cleaning out the campaign office, but focusing on getting back to doing the work of an MP in Kingston and the Islands.