SWEET VICTORY- Earl Dreeshen

Dreeshen looks forward to majority government

The Conservatives landed their long sought-after majority government in Monday night’s election, and local incumbent MP Earl Dreeshen said it’s an opportunity to show what the government can accomplish during at least a four-year stretch.

The Tories ultimately won 167 of 308 seats. To achieve majority status, a party must garner at least 155 seats in the House of Commons.

“It’s something we’ve worked so hard for,” he said Monday at his campaign headquarters. “We’ve had two minority governments where we have tried to put out a platform that people could trust. I’m extremely pleased.”

Unofficial numbers show that Dreeshen landed 38,106 votes and NDP candidate Stuart Somerville received 7,478 votes. Mason Sisson followed with 2,610 and Liberal Andrew Lineker with 2,015 votes. Voter turnout for the Red Deer riding was 50,209 of 92,792 registered electors (54.1%).

“The objective now is to go govern and do the best we can. We’ll have an opportunity to try and put those things in place that we said were so significant. That’s what we are looking forward to.

“We’ve had minority governments for so long now, and it’s been very difficult to get legislation through. I think that’s really the critical part. This is what Canadians have been talking about.”

Nationally, the NDP also soared to official opposition status – gaining 67 seats for a total of 102. NDP leader Jack Layton said Canadians voted Monday to strengthen public health care, retirement security and to help families make ends meet.

Dreeshen said his new primary opponents in the House of Commons will have some adjustments to make.

“The NDP is going to have to go through some growing pains as well. Yes, they have the numbers but they have to learn what the process is about. I hope their leadership with the official opposition is strong enough so that they recognize the things that are required in order to make this 41st parliament work.”

Local NDP candidate Stuart Somerville said it was a worthwhile experience to run in the election, and “to take a really active role in the Canadian political process.”

He was of course thrilled with how the NDP performed nationally.

“I think Canadian voters were looking for new possibilities,” he said. “I think they were looking for change. It’s a political landscape we’ve never seen before.”

Somerville knew the NDP would have a strengthened presence in the House of Commons, but the finals numbers exceeded his expectations.

Meanwhile, the Liberals saw their numbers drop to 34 seats and the Bloc Quebecois plummeted to four seats – losing official party status. The Green Party ended the night with one seat – won by party Leader Elizabeth May. Both Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff and Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe later announced they would be stepping down.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper said that despite the win, his party will work alongside the other parties. “We are intensely aware that we are and we must be the government of all Canadians, including those who did not vote for us,” he said.

Dreeshen is looking forward to re-submitting his private member’s bill (Bill C-576) which was scrapped when the election was announced in March. He said that at the time the bill, which would see jail times increase for dangerous criminals, was within weeks of becoming law. “That will be the first thing I will put forward,” he said.

mweber@reddeerexpress.com

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