While most of the country went to bed Monday night knowing there’d be a minority government, voters in Kitchener-Conestoga had to wait until late Tuesday morning to find out Liberal Tim Louis will be their next MP.
In a reversal of the 2015 election, Louis edged out incumbent Conservative MP Harold Albrecht, winning by 305 votes, having lost the last time by 251 ballots.
After the results had been announced, Louis described the experience as a mix of elation and exhaustion.
“It’s been a rollercoaster – I’ve got about one hour sleep in the past two days. I think all of Waterloo Region is a bit tired today because of Kitchener-Conestoga … but I feel fantastic,” said Louis of the results.
“I’m just really proud of all the work that we did. I’m proud of all the candidates in our riding.”
The candidates and their supporters, gathered nearby at a pair of Kitchener watering holes, had to go home Monday with the fate of the riding still unknown. Albrecht had a small lead through most of the night as the returns came in, cheers ringing out alternatively as new numbers put one or the other ahead later in the night.
“I can’t believe the results we have tonight nationally are what they are, knowing all the things that have happened, it’s incredible to me that’s what they have chosen. But they have, and that’s democracy,” said Albrecht at his election night party, while also expressing his support for Louis.
As it became mid-morning, supporters at both camps were eventually forced to call it a night, with Elections Canada attributing the failure to secure the results of five polling stations to improperly filed paperwork. The matter was resolved shortly before noon on Tuesday, and with all 216 polls tallied, Louis was declared the winner.
Elections Canada spokesman Réjean Grenier said the delays occurred because the agency was waiting for the deputy returning officer to provide an update on the paperwork. The matter was eventually resolved without the need for an official review that might have delayed the count for at least another day.
The official numbers have yet to be released, but the Elections Canada tracker, updated before the final polls, had Louis with 20,106 votes (39.6 per cent of the ballots cast) and Albrecht at 19,833 (39.1 per cent). New Democrat Riani De Wet was third with 5,152 votes (10.1 per cent), the Green Party’s Stephanie Goertz had 4,889 (9.6 per cent) and Koltyn Wallar of the People’s Party garnered 783 votes (1.5 per cent).
Where the candidates typically wait until the results are in to join supporters at the election night gatherings, both Louis and Albrecht eventually appeared as the night wore on.
Without any final result to address, Louis gave a speech that reflected on his appreciation for the voters.
“They have spoken, the votes are in. It’s up to us to count it and figure out and then the universe will unfold,” said Louis, congratulating the other four candidates who ran against him. “I want to thank all the other candidates, Harold, Riani, Steph, and Koltyn. It’s a lot of courage to get up and run, it takes a lot of sacrifice and I respect every single one of them for doing that.”
“I’ve never seen a candidate work as hard as Tim,” said Rick Hutfloetz who has been helping out with the Liberal campaign since 1984. Much like the rest of the crowd who was at the pub to support Louis, Hutfloetz waited in front of the TV switching back and forth from his phone screen to refresh the poll results.
Many of the supporters who were at the pub on Monday night felt that this election would be different this time around. “Albrecht won by so much before in 2011 that he was a force to be reckoned with,” said Hutfloetz of why he expected the results to be drastically different.
As the polls swayed back and forth between the two candidates and the night went on much of the energy didn’t change but rather seemed to increase.
“It’s going to be the same, it’s going to be very tight,” said Khalil Malik who was at the pub to support Louis.