Martin C. Barry
Champagne corks popped and there was jubilation all around at Laval-Les Îles Liberal candidate Fayçal El-Khoury’s campaign headquarters in Chomedey on the evening of Oct. 21 as the voting returns indicated beyond a doubt the riding’s incumbent hopeful was re-elected and would serve a second term.
Needed more time
While acknowledging during an election night interview with the Laval News that the Liberals’ overall fortunes were probably bolstered by support from voters who made up their minds in the days leading up to the vote, El-Khoury suggested he and the Liberals would have done better with just a little more time to campaign.
“I believe if we still had one or two more weeks we would have had a very good majority,” he said. “I felt from talking to people and knocking door-to-door that the people were starting to understand our message. But we were not able to knock on enough doors. One or two more weeks would have made the difference.”
Optimism despite minority
While the Liberals lost their House of Commons majority, falling short by 13 seats, El-Khoury remained hopeful the party will somehow still be able to make up for it and form an effective government.
“Even if it doesn’t happen, we will continue to serve Canadians the way our Prime Minister taught us to do,” he said. “We did a lot for Canadians. But there is still also a lot to do and we will do it.”
While the NDP won Laval-Les Îles in the 2011 election with an overwhelming 47.2 per cent voter support, the party finished this time with only a 9 per cent vote share and in third from last place in a field of six candidates. The NDP managed to finish second in 2015.
The return of the Bloc
The Bloc Québécois, which had been a consistent second-place finisher in Laval-Les Îles in consecutive elections up to 2008, didn’t finish better than fourth place in the 2011 and 2015 elections.
However, with the NDP no longer considered a serious threat in Quebec, the Bloc regained its second-place status this time, although finishing far behind El-Khoury, but with nearly 21 per cent voter support. The Conservatives, represented by Tom Pentefountas, finished third with 16.5 per cent of the votes.
Although the Liberals are now in a minority situation in the House of Commons and the Bloc Québécois hold 32 of Quebec’s 78 riding seats, El-Khoury said the Liberals will continue serving as they did before.
Believes in the Liberals
“I believe we have to show the Canadians what kind of job we did for them,” he said. “And we have to continue to serve them the way they are expecting us to do. I believe we need to prove to them – especially for Quebecers – that the Liberal Party was taking care of their interests.”
He pointed out that in the last Parliament, the governing Liberal caucus’s membership from Quebec included six cabinet ministers, as well as most of Quebec’s MPs, making for a formidable Liberal presence on Quebec’s behalf.
Asked whether he is concerned about the influence of the Bloc Québécois given their greater numbers now in the House of Commons, El-Khoury maintained their impact will be minimal because of their almost certain exclusion from decisions made by the government.
Dismisses Bloc Québécois
“Their voice will be almost nothing,” he said. “They could speak, but they will never have an influence in any legislation the government is going to do. So I am appealing to all Quebecers here to look for the interests of Quebec.
“I am a proud Canadian and a proud Quebecer,” added El-Khoury. “When we have member like me within the Liberal Party and a government that is governing this country, we can help to serve Quebec.
“But the Bloc will be always on the opposition side and they will never be able to do anything from there. They could shout. But they will never be able to influence decisions.”