At the end of a marathon 40-day election campaign, Guelphites have spoken and incumbent Liberal Lloyd Longfield is headed back to Ottawa to represent Guelph as its member of parliament.
With a handful of polls left to be counted, Longfield held 41 per cent of the popular vote.
”I am just thrilled and delighted to represent you for another four years,” Longfield told a group of about 125 supporters packed into the eBar on Quebec Street Monday evening.
As Longfield spoke to the crowd, his phone began to vibrate.
“Steve Dyck, it’s nice to hear from you, but I am with my friends right now,” he said to applause.
Longfield noted he spoke by phone with local NDP candidate Aisha Jahangir earlier in the evening.
“She gave me a call to congratulate me and I told her it looks like our parties are going to be working together,” he said, referencing the Liberal minority government that was elected Monday, which will likely need help from the NDP to stay in power.
“Something we do in Guelph almost on instinct is to work together across party lines,” said Longfield to the crowd.
Longfield thanked supporters, volunteers and his family before also congratulating other local candidates on their campaigns.
The Liberals took an early lead when initial results came in for Newfoundland and the Maritimes and that lead continued until a Liberal minority government was called.
For more than 25 years and over the past eight federal elections, the riding of Guelph has remained Liberal red. Monday’s election night was no exception, though results for the Royal City came in later than most due to staffing issues at polling stations in the south end.
Speaking to media after his victory speech, Longfield said the 40-day campaign felt as long as the 2015 one, which was a record 78 days.
“It was very divisive at the top and it was discouraging to see the personal attacks rather than focusing on issues like climate change and women’s rights — things that really matter to Canadians,” said Longfield.
Big issues that are facing Canadians — like the opioid crisis and mental health — are also big issues at home in Guelph, said Longfield.
“We have some really big jobs that we have to work on, but we have to do it across party lines,” said Longfield of the minority government. “The people of Canada have spoken and they are going to make us work together.”
Longfield said he has been working across party lines with Green MPP Mike Schreiner and Mayor Cam Guthrie.
“We are going to continue to do that, but now we are going to expand that effort and look at how we are going to do that nationally,” he said.
One challenge, said Longfield, has been trying to work with the Ontario PC government on a number of files.
“I think the provincial government has been playing some politics leading up to the election,” said Longfield. “I think the provincial government will face a public that is going to demand that it work with the federal government.”
During local debates and all-candidate meetings held in this campaign, Longfield defended his own record and that of the previous Liberal majority government.
In the 100 Debates on the Environment event, Longfield noted that as MP he served on a parliamentary committee struck to end boil water advisories on First Nations reserves. He said 86 have been eliminated to date, with 55 still to be removed and that the Liberals are on pace to have them all eliminated by 2021.
During the all-candidates meeting on social justice issues held in September, local Green candidate Steve Dyck took a swing and a miss against Longfield when he accused the incumbent of not speaking in favour of Guelph-based petitions in favour of electoral reform. Longfield corrected Dyck, saying he did speak about it in parliament a total of five times.
Longfield was also on defence during the campaign for issues ranging from the Liberal government’s purchase of the Trans Mountain Pipeline to the pressuring of Jody Wilson-Raybould while she was held the position of attorney general.
In the end, Canadians decided to give the Liberals another shot at governing, though this time without the benefit of a majority.
Although Liberal leader Justin Trudeau made a number of campaign appearances in neighbouring communities, he never made a stop in Guelph during this election campaign.
Longfield was first elected in 2015, with 49.1 per cent of the popular vote in Guelph. Previous to being Guelph’s member of parliament, Longfield served as the president of the Guelph Chamber of Commerce
Previous to the 2015 election, the Guelph seat was held by Liberal MP Frank Valeriote from 2008 to 2015. The riding of Guelph has gone Liberal in every federal election since 1993.