Mel Arnold is hitting the ground running.
Arnold, who topped the polls in Monday’s federal election, isn’t sure when he will be sworn in as North Okanagan-Shuswap MP. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t busy.
“I have received a call from Ottawa and I will go to Ottawa for orientation and initial meetings as early as next week,” he said.
Among the discussions will be hiring staff and setting up riding offices.
“The main office will remain in Vernon and we will have satellite space in Salmon Arm,” said Arnold, adding that he hasn’t determined where the riding office will be in Vernon.
While in Ottawa, Arnold will also investigate housing options for the next four years.
“With the distance so far, it will not always be possible to come home to the riding for a weekend,” he said.
“I will need a base if the House is sitting and I am there for weeks at a time.”
Justin Trudeau will be sworn in as prime minister Nov. 4. He will also announce his Liberal government cabinet that day.
The Liberal victory didn’t include North Okanagan-Shuswap, but local party members are riding the wave.
Candidate Cindy Derkaz placed second behind Conservative Mel Arnold in the riding, but she is embracing the Liberals’ historic shift from third-place to majority government Monday.
“I’m thrilled. I know the country was ready for a change and it’s a great night to be a Liberal,” she said from her Vernon campaign office.
“It’s a tremendously clear message that we want change as a country and we picked the Liberals to put that change into effect.”
Nationally, the Liberals won 184 seats compared to 99 for the Conservatives, 44 for the NDP, 10 seats for the Bloc Quebecois and one Green.
While other parties questioned Justin Trudeau’s ability to be prime minister, Derkaz says they will be proven wrong as Trudeau takes the reins of power.
“I always thought Justin was ready, that’s why I threw my life into chaos. He’s an amazing leader,” Derkaz said. “He’s so inclusive and collaborative and I think that bodes very well. Everybody that will be in caucus will have a voice at that table, I’m confident of that.”
While Derkaz was initially in third place in the opinion polls, she overtook NDP challenger Jacqui Gingras, but could not catch the momentum of Conservative Mel Arnold.
“You cannot rely on small (polling) samples at a regional level as a prediction of an outcome,” she said of those polls that showed the NDP in first and the Liberals third locally.
On election night, Arnold received 27,490 votes or 39.3 per cent.
That was followed by Derkaz at 20,951 or 30 per cent, Gingras at 17,903 or 25.6 per cent, and the Green Party’s Chris George at 3,609 votes or 5.2 per cent.