Kingston and the Islands Liberals started 2015 with a whirlwind of activity. In early December, we had been assuming that the nomination meeting would be called by the national campaign co-chairs sometime in late January or early February, which would have allowed the five contestants some down time with their families over the Christmas holidays. But then the meeting was officially called for January 10th, requiring everyone to accelerate their plans.
While we had to cancel what was intended to be our third all-contestants debate, we had fortunately already made arrangements for the second debate on January 8th, and what a debate it was! Despite near white-out conditions, some 450 engaged Liberals braved the elements to participate in the debate. And participate they did, lining up at the microphones to pose tough questions on a wide variety of issues.
In sharp contrast with our current Prime Minister, we Liberals expect our MPs to be comfortable giving honest, substantive replies to unscripted questions. In short, we want to satisfy ourselves that they are real and share our values. All five contestants made the grade, demonstrating substance, humour and respectful collegiality. The most frequent comment made by audience members on leaving at the end of the debate was that all five had demonstrated that they were MP material.
Less than 48 hours later, over 1200 Liberals crowded through KCVI’s labyrinth of corridors first for the contestants’ final speeches and then for voting. As with all Liberal nomination meetings, voting and subsequent counting were managed by officials and volunteers from outside of the riding to avoid any possibility of favouritism. Our riding association focussed on ensuring accessibility for all of our members, which was quite a challenge in the KCVI venue, but one which we successfully overcame.
Most left after casting their ballots, but some 120 of us stayed after the 4:00 pm close of voting, migrating to auditorium to await the eventual announcement. The suspense continued to build. and 120 of us migrated to the auditorium to await the results of the vote count. We all sat at the edge of our seats when, at 6:00 pm, the five contestants were called into the counting room. Finally, about 15 minutes later, the result was announced. Mark Gerretsen is our candidate for the federal election expected sometime this year. With your help, he will be the next Member of Parliament for Kingston and the Islands. Congratulations, Mark, and many thanks to all who participated!!