Local results need to prompt reflection

The progressive candidacies in Waterloo Region were dealt severe blows in the May 2 election.

Despite running better organized and more extensive campaigns than in 2008, Liberal candidates in Waterloo Region lost by greater margins in the 2011 election. Having lost by 17 votes in 2008, the 2011 margin between Kitchener-Waterloo’s Liberal Andrew Telegdi and Conservative Peter Braid will ultimately be in the thousands. In Kitchener Centre, Karen Redman was soundly defeated by almost 6,000 votes.

In Kitchener-Waterloo, this shift to the Conservatives was accompanied by a dramatic fall for Green party candidate Cathy MacLellan who looks to rake in less than five per cent of the popular vote, down from 12 per cent in 2008.

The NDP remained steady with approximately 15 per cent of the vote in Kitchener-Waterloo. This begs the question of whether the outcome would have changed had the NDP put more resources in the riding at the beginning, refusing to cede that the race was between Telegdi and Braid.

Waterloo Region is now clearly without a progressive vote. Those voices were lost in 2008 when the Liberal Party severely over-calculated the safety of Waterloo Region. Yet, they were further silenced in this election even as Liberals put more resources into the ridings and local candidates ran more impressive ground games.

These local results must prompt a discussion about whether this represents a broader ideological shift for the region. Part of the Conservative victories in Waterloo Region is attributable to the broader national shift. However, there must also be a conversation about whether this region is shifting away from the progressive side of Canadian politics for the long-term.

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