“What a night, what a campaign,” newly re-elected Member of Parliament (MP) for Kingston and The Islands Mark Gerretsen enthused in front of supporters at his election night celebration on Monday, Sept 20, 2021. “I don’t even know where to start.”
“I’ll start by saying, what an honour it was to run a campaign with four other very passionate people in our community (who) stood by their values, and what they believed in…I am so thrilled by the support that I’ve received from throughout the community. Tonight I am anxious and looking forward to going back to Ottawa to continue to represent the people of Kingston and The Islands.”
Now beginning his third term as MP for the riding, after serving on Kingston City Council as both councillor and mayor, Gerretsen revealed that he had been feeling anxious about the results of this latest election.
“I’m feeling relieved, obviously,” Gerretsen said. “I’m very happy and grateful and humbled by the support that I’ve received from our community to continue to represent people from our riding in Ottawa, it’s something that I’ve really enjoyed over the last number of years, something that I think that I’ve grown into, and I intend to continue that strong representation to the best of my ability.”
“What’s going to change is that the public has had the opportunity to hit the reset button on this, and the public has decided that they want us to go back in a minority situation, I mean you have to respect the fact that a lot has happened over the last two years. You know, the government has rolled out a lot of programs, money has been spent, programs and resources have been deployed, and at the end of the day…I think it was fair for the public to weigh in on that to decide, is this the right direction, do we keep moving forward or do we take another direction? And I think that what we’ve seen and what we’ve heard loud and clear is that the direction is the right way that we’re moving right now.”
Gerretsen said he thinks the election gave voters an opportunity to send a message not just to the governing party, but also to the opposition.
“I sat in the House of Commons, I was one of the only members to sit, physically in there, from January until June. And I saw, repeatedly, the Conservatives hold up legislation like banning conversion therapy, or passing a very important net-zero legislation,” Gerretsen said. “This might be seen as just ending up in another minority, but at the same time I think that this can also be seen as the population weighing in and saying, ‘You need to keep working together, and that includes not just the governing party but the opposition party’ so I think that what we’re seeing here is the opposition, also being told get back to work, to help construct meaningful legislation.”
Gerretsen said he will be working to advance several local priorities at the federal level.
“One of the most important things for this riding is affordable housing and housing affordability. I heard that loud and clear at the doors, that we need to do something to make sure that the proper measures are in place for people who are looking to purchase housing,” Gerretsen said. “More and more people are on the housing waiting list with the City of Kingston, the federal government needs to continue to do its part to provide supports to municipalities in the province to build affordable housing. That would be one of the major ones. Also, you know, personally, something that I’m extremely committed to is our environment and climate change, and what we’re going to do, that we’re going to curb climate change and how we’re going to deal with the effects of climate change,” Gerretsen continued. “So, you know, we’ve committed to a number of things, such as banning vehicles that are not net-zero (emissions) by 2035. I will certainly be at the table to push our government along with that agenda as quickly as possible. Eliminating subsidies for fossil fuels, another thing that I wish our government to move as expeditiously as possible.”
While the cost of this election has been estimated at over $500 million, with very little change in seat distributions among the political parties, Gerretsen nonetheless felt that the election was worth the cost.
“Absolutely, I would never suggest that there could be an upper limit of what you can charge to let the people have their voice heard,” Gerretsen said. “I think the message that was sent tonight, is just as important. To understand that we might be at the same place when we started, it’s just as important to know. After everything that has happened in the last two years, that (voters) are happy about that and they want to continue on that path. Democracy, to hold an election, it’s not cheap, but it’s part of our democratic process, and probably the most important part. So, when you value the $500 million, or whatever the amount might be, against the fact that the people have had their opportunity to weigh in, I think that opportunity is priceless.”