Ever since he was elected as the new Liberal Member of Parliament for Kitchener-Conestoga during the October 21 federal election, Tim Louis has been on something of a rollercoaster.
The 50-year-old professional musician and business owner edged out nearly four-term Conservative incumbent Harold Albrecht by 305 votes. Now, he’s ready to get started and eager to get settled into the routine of his new role.
“It’s a whirlwind. It truly is, it’s a whirlwind,” said Louis of the experience so far. “There’s so much to do, and you don’t get too much of a playbook – they throw you in, and there you go. It’s a hectic schedule, but I’m learning to adjust.”
It was among the closest races in the country, with the results being delayed until the next morning due to botched paperwork. When the dust had settled, Louis was declared the winner with 20,480 votes (39.7 per cent). His Conservative counterpart Albrecht garnered 20,115 (39 per cent), NDP candidate Riani De Wet received 5,204 (10.1) votes, Green Party candidate Stephanie Goertz finished fourth with 4,946 (9.6), and PPC candidate Koltyn Wallar got 790 votes (1.5 per cent).
The results paralleled the 2015 election, where Louis fell short to Albrecht by just 251 votes. This time around, Louis was on the winning end of an extremely close electoral race. When Louis received an urgent call from his campaign team to come back to his office while he was out collecting election signs, he didn’t know what to expect.
“I only know close elections,” said Louis. “Because my only experience had been a close election … that the numbers had changed after they did a bit of a recount, I didn’t have that ‘oh don’t worry, I’m sure everything is going to be fine.’ My experience said, head back in and see what happens, and hope for the best.”
The past couple of weeks since winning have been about learning the ropes of the new role. Already, he has attended plenty of events in the riding, including the Elmira Remembrance Day ceremony (along with Albrecht), the grand opening and ribbon cutting at the new St. Clements fire station, and the Elmira District Community Living volunteer appreciation dinner.
“Things are moving quickly, but in a strange way … they’re not moving as fast as I’d like them to be,” said Louis. “I’d like to have an office established; I’d like to have regular meetings with people. It takes a little while to make the transition from the previous MP to myself.
“But I’m looking forward to when we have a proper office and phone number, and we can serve everyone in the way that I’m ready to do. Things move a little slower than you want when you’re excited like that.”
The transition into life as new MP is quite an involved process: Louis will set up his new space in Albrecht’s former constituency office in the Williamsburg area of Kitchener, as well as establishing a second office in Ottawa.
Louis has been to Ottawa twice so far – once for an orientation put on by the House of Commons, and then a second meeting with the caucus. His third trip back to the capital of the country will be for the official cabinet swear in ceremony on November 20.
While his focus has been learning to adjust to the new job, affordability, climate change, and healthcare are all issues that Louis will be advocating for once he has settled into the House of Commons. He said that these were issues that his constituents found most important while he was knocking on doors throughout the riding.
As for his career as a musician, Louis said that may have to go on the backburner at this point.
“The music is really going to have to take a back seat … now, my responsibility is a member of parliament,” said Louis. “So I’m in the process of winding all of that down, but once in a while if something comes up – a charity event – there’s so many events I have done over the years, that if I can still help out in that capacity, I’d be glad to.”
Being on stage is natural to Louis as a musician, which should help him adjust quicker to being an MP. He is expected to deliver plenty of speeches at various events in the community.
“You put yourself in the shoes of the people that are there and try to express their feelings through the microphone. That’s the way I look at it,” said Louis.
He said the most challenging part to wrap his head around would be the new procedures and atmosphere of Ottawa – as MP, he will split his time between the Kitchener-Conestoga riding and the nation’s capital.
“I’m not afraid to take on any new challenge. You see something, you figure it out, and you adapt. The procedures are different – I’ve got to learn a whole new playbook,” said Louis. “But I’m looking forward to that.”