By Scott Healey
The 2022 Ontario provincial election is over; the people have spoken. Candidates respect the people’s choice and move on. Some may even hold the winner accountable to the people.
I was honoured to be a candidate for the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario in Ottawa Centre for the June 2 election. Though the outcome was not totally unexpected, it was not what I had hoped. No one likes to lose, and I am certainly no exception. I am proud of our campaign and the way it represented the platform of the PC party. My team conducted a respectful campaign in a professional manner; that I am happy with.
After some post-election reflection, my campaign experience has brought both feelings of disappointment and humility.
My disappointment is threefold. Firstly, the voter turnout was terrible. I know incumbents benefit from a low voter turnout – my party was returned to power with an even larger majority, and for that I am glad. I am happy for our party’s victory, but I am not happy about the state of our democracy. Disengagement and complacency are not healthy for democratic politics.
Secondly, I was disappointed by a few comments directed towards my campaign team. I somewhat expected it for myself and was on the receiving end of some nasty language on a few occasions. However, having your volunteers called racists and fascists as they put up blue signs in our neighbourhoods is hardly supportive of the progressive image that our community wants to portray. Intolerance is not just reserved for the right end of the so-called political spectrum, but for the left as well. If my fellow candidates received similar comments, which I would regret if they did, I am sure they would feel the same.
On a slightly partisan note, I am disappointed that five Ottawa ridings representing over 600,000 people have no representation around the government table. Ottawa is the second largest city in Ontario and should have a strong voice at the government table, but there is none. As a colleague of mine once stated, “equal but not fair.” You may not be disadvantaged, but you are sure not going to be advantaged.
As I reflect on my campaign experiences, I am humbled in two ways. I am humbled that 8,686 people voted for me. I take this vote of confidence very seriously and feel a deep sense of gratitude, commitment and obligation. If I had received just one vote, I would take that obligation no less seriously than if I had received 100,000.
Secondly, while campaigning I saw, heard and felt the challenges that exist in our community. When I spoke on election night, I said “Ottawa Centre is just a pin prick on a geographical map and a grain of sand on a beach in the world’s population, but there are so many challenges in our midst.” When you depart from the usual path travelled, the world you encounter is not always what you had imagined.
I often said to my small campaign team “you can’t eat the whole elephant at once, just one bite at a time.” That’s how we can improve the world, one bite at a time.
All said and done, the overall experience was very rewarding, and I am glad I had an opportunity to participate in the political process as a candidate. To my campaign team, thank you. To the voters of Ottawa Centre, thank you for listening and doing your civic duty. To all those new friends and acquaintances I met on this journey, it was a pleasure, and we’ll keep in touch.
I wish Joel Harden all the best as our MPP at Queen’s Park. I know that he will represent the riding and our interests with the intensity and dedication we expect from our elected officials. I’ll be watching.
Scott Healey was the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario candidate of record for Ottawa Centre in the June 2022 election.