For a seventh straight federal election, the Cariboo-Prince George riding is staying blue as it has once again voted in a Conservative Member of Parliament.
Todd Doherty will be serving his third term for the riding which serves a population of about 108,907 in the north-central interior of B.C. after winning around 50 per cent of the vote Monday night. (Sept. 20)
“I think being elected for a third time is an incredible honour,” said Doherty, surrounded by his family at the Courtyard Marriot in Prince George on election night.
However, with national results showing a Liberal minority government similar to federal election results in 2019, Doherty remains in the same position as a member of the official opposition.
“People were frustrated we were in the middle of an election to begin with. I think overwhelmingly that was the message ‘why are we in this election?’,” said Doherty. “I think this was a huge waste of money. Think about what that money could have went to and the good that it could have done across our nation.”
Doherty added that the campaign was more divisive than 2019 as he experienced slashed tires, sign vandalism and threats.
“We can disagree with one another but the threats of violence is unacceptable, so it has been really tough.”
However, Doherty said he is eager to get back to Ottawa and bring the feedback he’s learned from this campaign, especially from his fellow candidates on the campaign trail.
“I want to make sure that I am taking back the feedback that we heard on the doorsteps from those other candidates and be better,” said Doherty.
“I want people to know who their member of parliament is and to feel comfortable they can walk up and talk and ask questions – the message that we heard from some of the candidates was they didn’t feel that way so I think we can take from this and make sure we are doing better the next time.”
Doherty’s career in politics has seen him responsible for presenting and passing Bill C-211, which encompasses the federal framework to address the challenge of those people in service dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
He is also known for his advocacy for mental health. In 2020 Conservative leader Erin O’Toole named Doherty special advisor to the leader on mental health and wellness in the shadow cabinet.
Polling in second place was NDP candidate Audrey McKinnon. It was a first-time federal race for McKinnon who gained more than 20 per cent of the vote Monday night.
The former CBC reporter, now in communications, had been motivated to run in the federal election because of her experience living in poverty as a single parent.
“It's a lot of work to be a candidate and to run a campaign and I'm just really grateful to everybody who contributed to the campaign,” said McKinnon. “We did absolutely everything that we could in 36 days which is a very short window of time.”
McKinnon also noted frustration with national results projecting another Liberal minority government.
“Well, it was an unnecessary election and I think the results proved that as the Liberals and Conservatives have gained almost nothing at this point and I can say I’m proud that the NDP looks to be increasing,” said McKinnon. “And unfortunately, this has cost all of us a lot of money.”
Monday night results showed the NDP winning 27 seats which is an increase from 2019’s 24.
“I believe that there is a lot of progressive support in this riding and that we have a lot of work to do to let people know that we're here,” added McKinnon, about the gains the NDP made in Cariboo-Prince George.
“That's what I'm willing to do and it's what I've been trying to do for the last thirty-six days is to get out there and speak to as many people and let them know that there is a better alternative,” said McKinnon before thanking everyone she’d met on doorsteps, over the phone or on social media.
“This was never about one election. It's about fighting for what people need in this riding and I will continue that fight. Whatever the results are.”
City councillor Garth Frizzell also ran under the Liberal banner for the Cariboo-Prince George riding, polling in third place.
“I’m glad to see the people of Canada have spoken and brought back a Liberal government,” said Frizzell of the results.
“This is definitely a building year. The riding association has really been strengthened by this and the Liberals are here to stay in Cariboo-Prince George.”
Frizzell, who also campaigned in his first federal election, said it’s been great to see the difference between a federal and municipal campaign and called the experience exhilarating.
“I think some of the key issues that we see federally are resonating locally,” said Frizzell, about getting back to work as a city councillor.
“We see it in reconciliation. We see it in housing. We see it in climate change. While that’s not something local governments have been set up to do it’s something local governments are tasked with doing anyways because the buck stops there.”
Frizzell added he was grateful the candidates in Cariboo-Prince George were able to work together in issuing a joint statement to encourage residents in the riding to get vaccinated.
“It was a learning experience but we are all people and we are all northerners so I take away that there is more that unites us than divides us.”
Family physician Dr. Leigh Hunsinger-Chang ran for the Green Party in Cariboo-Prince George after becoming deeply concerned about climate change gaining around three per cent of the vote in preliminary results.
The riding also saw Jeremy Gustafson run for the PPC gain around eight per cent of the vote and Henry Thiessen for the Christian Heritage party with just 0.4 per cent.
In 2019 Doherty won with 52.7 per cent of the vote, followed by Liberal Candidate Tracy Calogheroes with 20 per cent and NDP candidate Heather Sapergia with 15.4 per cent.
Two years ago the Green Party saw 9.1 per cent of votes for candidate Mackenzie Kerr and the PPC has just 2.2 per cent of the vote for candidate Jing Lan Yang.