By Chad Ingram
“I think anybody can be successful on the other side of the fence” says Jamie Schmale. “I think it has a lot to do with the personality of the individual.”
Schmale 11 years the executive assistant to MP Barry Devolin is the new Member of Parliament for Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock.
He will sit as an Opposition member in a Liberal majority government that few in the country saw coming.
Schmale who took 45 per cent of the vote in the riding beat out Liberal competitor David Marquis the NDP’s Mike Perry and Bill MacCallum of the Green Party.
“The Liberals have promised huge infrastructure dollars” Schmale said. “I’ll work with our municipalities find out what they need and go fight for that.”
As a member of the Opposition he said he’d also “make sure the Liberals don’t get carried away with the credit card.”
With a red wave sweeping Atlantic Canada it became clear early in the evening that nationally results were not going the way Conservative supporters at Schmale’s party at Lindsay’s Cat and the Fiddle pub had hoped
“I think we knew it was going to be a fight” Schmale said of the Liberal surge on the East Coast. He said the strength of the victory though was a bit of a surprise.
“I think the NDP were just as surprised” he said noting the Conservatives and NDP lost some key strongholds and promising politicians in the Maritimes.
The 78-day-long campaign delivered to Canadians by the Conservatives could have been partially responsible for the results nationally Schmale conceded but said he thought it was good for local candidates allowing them to thoroughly travel the geographically large riding of Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock.
“We got to get to every corner of the riding” he said.
When it became clear Schmale had taken the seat he took to the podium to chants of “Jamie Jamie Jamie!”
“I can’t say enough about the team of volunteers and friends and supporters that came out these past weeks” Schmale told the room thanking those who’d worked on his campaign.
He said residents of HKLB had made it clear they wanted their money in their pockets not in government coffers.
Schmale also offered thanks to Devolin who was present for the victory of his protege.
“Where would I be without my friend my boss Barry Devolin” Schmale said.
Schmale 39 ran against Devolin for the Conservative nomination in the riding back in 2004. When Devolin beat him Devolin made Schmale his campaign manager and after he was elected MP his executive assistant a position Schmale has held since.
“I can’t tell you how much I’ve learned from you” Schmale told Devolin. “Your advice and mentorship means more to me than I could ever say.”
In his congratulatory remarks Devolin praised Schmale’s work as a member of his staff and said while it’s the MP’s name on the wall it’s the people behind the scenes that keep the wheels turning.
“When people walk through the front door it’s the staff who are doing the work a lot of the time” he said.
HKLB MPP Laurie Scott was also present offering Schmale congratulations and praising those who had worked on “a long long campaign.”
Marquis showed up to concede and congratulate Schmale.
“All the best to you in Ottawa” Marquis said. “I’m sure you’ll do a great job for the people of the riding.”
Marquis also took the opportunity to remind the Conservative crowd of the size of the Liberal win.
“The country has clearly set a new direction and I was happy to be part of that” he said
MacCallum and Perry also showed up to offer Schmale congratulations.
The NDP which had been leading in the polls early in the campaign didn’t have a good night Monday shrinking to some 40 seats from the 95 it held at the dissolution of Parliament.
“It was clear that people wanted change and that they went to the Liberal party instead of the NDP this time” Perry told the paper.
He said he was thrilled with his team wouldn’t have done anything differently and would “absolutely” be willing to run again in the future.
Marquis finished with nearly 32 per cent of the vote in Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock Perry 19.5 and MacCallum four.
According to preliminary figures from Elections Canada at press time voter turnout in Monday’s election was more than 68 per cent representing a seven per cent jump from the 2011 election and the highest voter turnout for a federal election since 1993.