In this federal election, there were a half dozen ridings that were too close to call by the end of Monday night, including Sault Ste. Marie. This holds important wisdom for us as voters and for the candidates themselves. In a nutshell, every voter and vote matters; and every day’s work matters for candidates and elected officials.
Here in Sault Ste. Marie, we saw an election as close as I’ve ever seen. Many of us did not go to bed until late Monday, as we continued to refresh the results on our smartphones or laptops. Depending when you hit the sack, you may have rested on your pillow seeing the Liberals or the Conservatives were ahead. At 11:17 p.m. Sonny Spina had 9,158 votes and Sheehan had 9,118 votes. By 11:23 p.m., Sheehan had regained the lead with 9,763 votes ahead of Spina’s 9,702.
By the time we woke on Tuesday morning there were 65 votes separating the incumbent Liberal candidate Terry Sheehan, and the Conservative candidate Sonny Spina. By 12:48 a.m., Sheehan was 41 votes ahead. By Tuesday night, it was still Sheehan in the lead, by only 55 votes, with one remaining polling station left to report in its numbers.
I hope the closeness at the polls lights a fire under our re-elected MP. It couldn’t have been closer. Obviously, people were not sure that he was the right candidate to represent us again; and were not resoundingly happy with the work he’s done for this community. A candidate with more energy and drive almost took Sheehan’s spot in Ottawa.
I do wonder if Spina had run for the NDP if he would have taken the seat resoundingly, as many people didn’t want to vote in the Liberals again but many didn’t want to vote for Erin O’Toole’s Conservatives either. People like Sonny’s energy and fight. A lot still did vote for Sonny, and that should make our incumbent think about how lucky he is to be elected.
Sonny should be congratulated for the campaign that he ran, with 14,984 votes to Sheehan’s 15,231. Frankly, anyone who puts his or her hat in the ring should be congratulated for being willing to be part of the change that they want to see in the world. To the rest of us, we had one job, and yet so many didn’t do it (40 per cent, in fact).
Aside from hopefully motivating our MP to be as responsive to those who elected him, I see this close election as a call to the voters. I know too many people who didn’t vote and, if it isn’t obvious to them now, the old adage of ‘every vote matters’ has never been more true. Only 247 votes secured a win for the Liberals with voter turnout just above 60 per cent. I suspect that these election results will lead to higher voter turnout next time as we now see that just a few votes can change everything.
I get it though, it was a tough year to vote; and I did think of not voting for a moment. No one wanted this election, and locally most people I spoke to didn’t want to vote for any of the candidates. At my polling station, one man walked past saying: “Time to elect another liar … do you know which liar you’re voting for?” I wasn’t actually sure who’d get my vote until I held that golf pencil in my hand. I truly went in only knowing who I wasn’t voting for. But, I did my job, and now I expect our elected official to do his job every day, not just in the days leading up to an election.