As a sea of red swathed Canada in a Liberal majority government on Monday night, Kitchener-Conestoga MP Harold Albrecht held onto his Conservative seat – the only blue riding left in Waterloo Region.
Albrecht waited until 1:30 a.m. to give his victory speech surrounded by family and supporters, as the votes between him and Liberal candidate Tim Louis were tight all night. Voters chose Albrecht over Louis by just 351 votes, the closest election race Albrecht’s ever faced.
In a post-speech interview, Albrecht explained what this win means for him.
“It’s a huge honour to be re-elected in a time where there was an incredible red wave across the country. I am very indebted to these supporters that have stood with me through thick and thin and obviously to the voters of Kitchener-Conestoga. I will do everything I can to earn the trust and retain that trust,” Albrecht said.
He won the riding with 43.4 per cent of the vote. Louis was less than a percentage point behind at 42.6 per cent. With the Conservatives picking up 99 seats across Canada, they’ll be the official opposition – a first for Albrecht.
“Working as an opposition member I have no idea what that will be like, I haven’t done it before so I can’t comment on that,” Albrecht said.The Liberals earned a majority government with 184 seats, or 54 per cent of the 338 available. The NDPs will have 44 seats, followed by the Bloc Quebecois with 10, and Elizabeth May holding on to the lone Green seat.
It was a much closer race this time around for Albrecht who was re-elected in 2011 with 54.12 per cent of the Kitchener-Conestoga votes, largely overtaking the NDP candidate who had 21.84 per cent, and the Liberals with 19.95 per cent.
“It’s not as strong as I would have liked but like I said the red wave rolled through and there’s not a lot that an individual candidate can do when that happens. And we saw that in Quebec last time with the NDP, candidates being elected not have even been in their riding. But it is a real honour to serve,” Albrecht said.
A Member of Parliament since 2006, Albrecht participates in the auto caucus, energy caucus, rural caucus, and the pro-life caucus. In 2014 he brought forward Bill C-300, An Act Respecting a Federal Framework for Suicide Prevention. That’s one of the causes he plans to keep on championing during this term in office.
“For me I would like to continue working on some of the initiatives that I’ve worked on over the last eight years, work on issues like better palliative care, mental health initiatives, suicide prevention, things that will give people the tools that they need to get through some very difficult challenges in their life,” Albrecht said.
And he’s no stranger to adversity. On the night of the 2011 federal election, his wife of nearly 40 years, Betty, suffered a brain hemorrhage and died two days later. He has since remarried, and his wife Darlene McLean was on hand watching the results come in with him.
“Four and a half years ago our victory party took a very tragic turn, as Betty’s sudden illness made it impossible for us to be here, or there. The sum loss and the dark days following Betty’s death were a huge blow to me and my family. You stood with me through some dark days and I have seen the sunrise,” Albrecht said to the crowd.
In his victory speech, he thanked his volunteers for staying into the wee hours of the night to celebrate with him. As can be expected from the former pastor, he thanked God for giving him the health to continue his parliamentary duties.
“It’s been a strange, long journey friends. And all I can say to all of you is thank you. I cannot believe that so many of you have stuck with us tonight in waiting so long, but most importantly many of you have given so much over these last 11 weeks, and indeed these last years,” Albrecht said.
This will be Albrecht’s fourth term in office. He resides on his Wilmot Township farm and operated a dentistry practice for 27 years before spending six years as a pastor. He joined politics in 2005 and was first elected in 2006 with 41.22 per cent of the vote.
Despite a disappointing Liberal majority for the Conservative supporters in the room, Albrecht says he’s excited for the next four years, and beyond.
“The Liberals have earned the right to form government. Let me be absolutely clear, I stand in opposition to their policies of taxes and debt that will kill jobs and take money out of your pockets. I have always been willing to work across party lines and that will not change in this new scenario.”