Just as she appeared throughout the election campaign, Liberal candidate Shelley Desautels was upbeat on election night, despite the results.
Incumbent Mel Arnold’s victory was not a surprise in the perennially Conservative riding.
“I’m fine with it. We knew coming into this it was going to be a tough one anyways and it was my first time coming in, it was really more my introduction,” said Desautels. “It was super difficult trying to be able to get out into the public eye without actually being able to do events and stuff. So we came into a difficult situation at a difficult time. I think we did fantastic as a campaign.”
Being her first foray into politics, Desautels said nothing was particularly unexpected. However, the degree of animosity did surprise her.
“I guess one of the things a lot of campaigns found was just that amount of anger, across Canada, was more than we’ve seen in other elections.”
Undeterred, she said she will definitely be in the running next time, and thanked the other candidates as well as her supporters profusely.
She said she also intends to find ways to advocate for people in the riding.
“As I’ve been doing my campaigning I’ve been doing a lot of talking to organizations where I’ve noticed a lot of gaps, and that people really feel they haven’t been heard. I’m been trying to figure out how I can be that advocate for them in between, even though I’m not the MP.”
Asked if she can push for action on issues like climate change, which she described during the campaign as the riding’s and the country’s number one challenge, she said intends to on that and other issues.
“As we’re going through the next couple of years, keep tabs on what’s being done, and keeping them accountable. If I was MP, what would I be doing. I’d be making sure that they’re holding true to their promises… I don’t know how much I can do, but I’m one of those people who generally go and do things that maybe other people wouldn’t, as a squeaky wheel, or I reach out to people… So I’m going to do as much as I can.”
Regarding a highlight of the campaign, she said she was terrified to do the all-candidates’ forums, but she went ahead anyway and did them successfully.
“Those are very intimidating situations to put yourself into. So I think accomplishing that was definitely a highlight for me,” she said, adding that she had a fantastic team behind her, helping her prepare.
Choosing a low light, she said: “I think we could have gone without our volunteers feeling threatened or feeling like they might be at risk. I don’t want that for my volunteers so that’s something I don’t want them subjected to.”
Asked about the intimidating behaviour, she said there were some threatening protesters in Salmon Arm, but there were more in Vernon and they were louder than in other places.
Desautels attributed the increased support for the NDP to leader Jagmeet Singh’s good showing throughout the campaign.
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