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Canada Election 2015
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Pensions soften the blow

It will cost Canadian taxpayers about $209 million in cumulative pension payments to the 180 eligible MPs who were either defeated or chose not to run in Monday's federal election.

A further $12.8 million will be paid in the form of severance payments.

Figures were released Tuesday morning by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

MPs are eligible for pension benefits beginning at age 55 after six years of elected service.

Defeated and retiring MPs will collect $5.3 million in annual pension payments, reaching a cumulative total of $209 million by age 90.

“Losing an election can be tough, but most MPs will have a soft financial landing,” said CTF federal director Aaron Wudrick.

“The good news is that thanks to the hard-fought pension reforms that take effect on Jan. 1, 2016, taxpayers will not have to shoulder as much of the burden in the future.”

For MPs who retired or were defeated Monday, taxpayers paid $17 for every $1 contributed by the MP.

Beginning Jan. 1, the ratio will gradually shift to a ratio of $1.60 in taxpayer contributions for every $1 put in by an MP or senator.

Three outgoing Okanagan area MPs could collect more than a combined $4.83 million in pension to age 90.

Kelowna-Lake Country MP Ron Cannan, who served 9.7 years in Ottawa, will receive a severance payment of $83,700. The 54-year-old is eligible for a yearly pension of $46,632 to a maximum of $2.34 million by age 90.

Colin Mayes, 67, who chose not to run for re-election after serving North Okanagan-Shuswap for nearly 10 years, will pocket a severance of $36,000 and an annual pension of $47,126 to a maximum of $1.36 million by age 90.

Former British Columbia-Southern Interior NDP MP Alex Atamanenko also chose not to run again after nearly 10 years in Ottawa.

Atamanenko receives a severance of $37,000 and a yearly pension of $46,632 to a maximum of $1.13 million by age 90.

All three contributed slightly more than $116,000 into the pension plan.



Big voter turnout in valley


The 2015 federal election had the largest voter turn out in more than 20 years, with 68.5 per cent of eligible voters casting ballots. And, here in the Okanagan, electors made sure they made it to the polls.

Liberal Stephen Fuhr managed to unseat Ron Cannan in Kelowna-Lake Country with 46.1 per cent of the vote, but an even bigger surprise was the voter turnout for the area.

In Kelowna-Lake Country, 64,170 of 89,033 voters went to the polls, a 72.07 per cent turnout. However, this does not include electors who registered to vote on election day.

In 2011, Cannan received 57.40 per cent of the vote, with just over 60,000 registered voters making it to the polls that year.

In the Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola riding, Conservative Dan Albas held onto his seat with 39.5 per cent of the vote, although it was a tight race with Liberal Karley Scott at 37.3 per cent.

With a population of 104,398 in that riding, 61,820 of 86,093 registered voters cast ballots – a 71.81 per cent voter turnout.

Back in 2011, Albas took the win with 53.58 per cent of the vote. However, the riding looked much different as the boundary changed for what was then Okanagan-Coquihalla. Just over 53,000 voters made it out during the last election.

Conservative Mel Arnold took the win in North Okanagan-Shuswap with 39.3 per cent of the vote.

In that riding, 69,953 of 96,243 registered electors cast their ballot, a 72.68 per cent voter turnout.

Former Conservative MP Colin Mayes took 53.58 per cent of the vote in the last federal election, with just over 56,000 electors making it to the polls.

To the south of the valley, Richard Cannings secured his spot as MP with 37.2 per cent of the vote in South Okanagan-West Kootenay.

Of the 90,694 electors registered to vote, 66,727 made it to the polls – a 73.57 per cent turnout.

During the last federal election, the British Columbia Souther Interior riding, which was redistributed this year to become South Okanagan-West Kootenay, NDP candidate Alex Atamanenko captured the win with 50.92 per cent of the vote. At the time, just over 49,000 voters made it to the polls.



'A remarkable journey'

Ron Cannan waited until the bitter end to speak to supporters and admit defeat to Liberal Stephen Fuhr in Kelowna-Lake Country.

When the Tory MP of 9 1/2 years finally entered the room, he was met with cheers and hugs, but the indisputable air of disappointment couldn't be denied.

Supporters watched the results come in with sadness and almost a pang of agony, knowing not only would the Liberals have a majority government, but that Cannan had lost.

Despite several boundary changes and name switches, Kelowna-Lake Country has been a Conservative stronghold for 60 years. So much so that Prime Minister Stephen Harper didn't make a campaign stop in Kelowna when he visited the B.C. Interior.

However, Cannan accepted his loss with pride and praised both NDP candidate Norah Bowman and newly elected Liberal Stephen Furh for their efforts.

“Canada is the best country in the world to call home,” he said in his speech. “Thank you for this opportunity, the great community of Kelowna-Lake Country, for the last 9 1/2 years as the member of Parliament and before that as a city councillor from 1996 to the end of 2005. What a remarkable journey it has been.”

Cannan said he was surprised by many events that unfolded across the country Monday evening, but admitted Justin Trudeau ran what Cannan called a fantastic campaign and that Canadians wanted change.

He put his defeat down to two reasons.

“It was the combination of the perfect storm and the fact the Green vote, strategically, they moved over to the Liberals, they had a coalition agreement,” he explained. “The fact that the opposition provided some alternative change, there was a message the Prime Minister Stephen Harper, I guess, served his tenure for almost 10 years, and the community has spoken.”

He refused to accept that the social media campaign "Anyone but Harper" had anything to do with it, stating he was a part of a team.

“You work as a team. I’ve played sports all my life, and the fact is you celebrate as a team in victory and you go down as a team.”

Cannan said he will continue to serve the community "the best way I can, and have a bit of a normal life with my wife and family, and enjoy my three wonderful grandsons.”

He hasn’t thought of what he will do next, but would like to remain a part of the community in any way possible.



Cannan concedes

UPDATE 11:35 P.M

In an unexpected outcome, three-term Kelowna-Lake Country Conservative MP Ron Cannan lost his riding to Liberal candidate Stephen Fuhr.

Cannan took his time waiting for all the polls to close before he came downstairs to his event and conceded defeat.

He stood in front of the diminishing crowd and thanked his supporters for their years of support.

Cannan lost the riding with 40 per cent of votes, beaten by Fuhr with 46 per cent. 


ORIGINAL 

Close to 65 supporters of Kelowna-Lake Country candidate Ron Cannan are anxiously watching the federal election results roll in. 

Cannan and Liberal candidate Stephen Fuhr are currently in a neck-and-neck battle as the final tally comes in.

Many supporters were too anxious to talk about the results and the Liberal majority win. Several voiced aloud their disappointment with the results and with voters for choosing to elect a Liberal government. 

However, when poll results placed Cannan in a slight lead, the crowd let out several loud cheers and many turned to hug each other. 

Cannan was waiting until the final results are in for the riding before coming into the room at the Sherton Four Points, where his party faithful are gathered. 



New colour for Kelowna

The Liberal crowd was nothing less than elated as they donned red and jumped up and down in excitement as their candidate – Stephen Fuhr – became the first Liberal MP in Kelowna since the 1960s.

From chants of “Stephen, Stephen, Stephen” to rounds of O Canada sung with pride, the room was electric as the Liberals took a majority government in Canada and a Liberal seat in the Okanagan.

“And Stephen Harper is gone,” said Fuhr to an outburst of cheers, his first words as he took the podium for his acceptance speech.

“We got it done, and that is the most important thing,” Fuhr told supporters as the polls revealed he had taken the Kelowna-Lake Country seat.

“I thank you for your support. I am pleased and honoured. I just feel the responsibility pushing me down, but I can do it, and I look forward to representing you all in Ottawa. Thank you so much.” 

Among a large turnout of supporters who crowded into Hanna’s Lounge in downtown Kelowna, Fuhr also took time to acknowledge his campaign team and Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran, who was quick to get him his first beer.

“This win is a perfect example of what you can do when you co-operate,” said Fuhr. “Because it took everybody to make this happen. This riding hasn’t been this colour – red – since 1968 under Trudeau.”

Fuhr was quick to thank former Green candidate Gary Adams, who stepped down and threw his support behind the Liberals in Kelowna-Lake Country.

“I could go on and on with the Greens and Libs that I have met in the last few months, and it has been totally exciting, totally exhausting and totally satisfying,” Adams told the crowd.

“I look forward to working with the Greens, just like I look forward to working with the Liberals, just like I do with everybody in this riding. Now there are no colours in this riding – we all work together,” added Fuhr.

Fuhr is the Liberal MP-elect for the Kelowna-Lake Country riding with 46 per cent of the votes.



Smiles shine through defeat

Smiles returned to the faces of NDP supporters at Kelowna Community Theatre Monday night as the two candidates took to the podium and thanked their volunteers.

Norah Bowman, candidate for Kelowna-Lake Country, and Angelique Wood, candidate for Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola, were greeted by cheering supporters as they entered the lobby.

As the reality of the NDPs defeat settled in, focus shifted to praising everyone involved in the campaign.

The loss still stung, though.

“I totally expected we were going to win or at least have a very good showing,” Wood said. “I’m very happy we have done what we’ve done, and I congratulate Dan (Albas) and Karley (Scott) on their stellar performances, but I am very surprised.”

Wood said she had been seeing plenty of support from people while knocking on doors, but didn’t see this translate to success at the polls.

“It doesn’t reflect the reality we had happen on the doorstep,” Wood said. “(We saw) a real vigour, not just sort of tepid.”

Both candidates thanked their volunteers on the campaign.

“We’re here to thank the volunteers,” Bowman said. “We’ve run a truly magnificent and inspiring campaign, and I’m so proud of what we’ve started here in Kelowna-Lake Country.”

“I can’t say enough about the volunteers we’ve had,” Wood agreed. “We’ve had an incredible group of people come out, and it’s been so humbling.”

Bowman congratulated Stephen Fuhr, the Liberal Party candidate who beat out incumbent Conservative MP Ron Cannan in Kelowna-Lake Country, while throwing a dig at Stephen Harper.

“I’d like to offer my congratulations to Stephen Fuhr for his victory tonight, and let’s throw in a round of applause for Harper’s last day,” she said to heavy applause.

Now the 78-day campaign period is over, Wood had bittersweet feelings about its end.

“It’s really been a way of life,” Wood said. “It will feel really empty in a couple days when I don’t have to race around to go to many different places, but it will be a welcome shift to go back to my life, my family.”

Bowman said she was looking forward to having more time with family again.

“This has been the longest campaign since the 19th century, and my partner and my mother and my son still like me.”

Bowman announced during her speech she will still be an NDP tomorrow, and was optimistic about her future with the party.

Wood said she would definitely consider running again.

“The things I still think need working on I believe are still going to need working on in four more years,” Wood said.

She said while she would much rather see a Liberal Party majority in office than a Conservative Party majority, but some parts of the Liberal platform concern her.

“I do have reservations about things like (Bill) C-51 but there are more things in the Liberal platform that appeal to me,” she said.

After thanks were given and pictures taken, live music kicked off, the din of laughter and conversation filled the room and food and drink was enjoyed.

“We may have lost the battle, but we won the buffet!" announced Chris Langer, a campaign volunteer.



Fuhr's supporters elated

UPDATE 10:35 P.M.

The Liberal crowd was nothing less than elated as they donned red and jumped up and down in excitement as their candidate – Stephen Fuhr – became the first Liberal MP-elect in Kelowna in over 60 years. 

Fuhr took the Kelowna-Lake Country riding with 47 per cent of the vote. 


ORIGINAL 

Stephen Fuhr and his Liberal Party supporters are quite literally bouncing with excitement in Kelowna tonight, as the election is being called for Justin Trudeau as Canada’s next prime minister.

Shortly after 7 p.m., Fuhr’s election-night event, held at Hannah’s Pub, was starting to fill up as supporter after supporter entered the room wearing red and cheering.

As media called a Liberal majority, the crowd erupted in cheers and high-fives.

“It was truly great, a great feeling. I didn’t think they were going to blank out the Maritimes like that, really and truly. But, when I saw that, I knew it was a Liberal majority government,” said a smiling Joe Iafrancesco.

“In so many ways I was not surprised, but I was still super, super excited and even more I was relieved,” said Rose Sexsmith while bouncing. “Because I was hoping for change, and this is it. We got it!”

While the group is confident a win in Kelowna is possible for Steven Fuhr, they are aware Kelowna has traditionally voted blue.

“I do believe it is doable. The polls are not in yet, but I do feel very comfortable, very positive. In the previous campaign I didn’t feel this positive, and at this time I feel like it is a done deal,” added Iafrancesco.

“Kelowna has been blue, but I don’t think anyone is thinking of it as voting against Ron Cannan, who we all love. This is the first time ever we have voted thinking federally,” explained Sexsmith.

The group of Liberal supporters were quick to point out that this time their voting was based on federal policies.

“It is not anti-Ron, we love Ron. It is anti-Harper,” said Sexsmith.

“I am so excited. I have always voted Conservative, but tonight I am wearing a red suit,” says Brenda Lyall who was a long time Conservative supporter and voter before this campaign, but said it was time for change.

“I am just not happy with what is going on federally.”



Cannings off to Ottawa

The second time was a charm for Richard Cannings.

Naturalist and author Richard Canning swept to victory Monday in the riding of South Okanagan-West Kootenay.

The NDP candidate easily outdistanced Liberal contender Connie Denesiuk and Conservative hopeful Marshall Neufeld.

Just two years ago, Cannings lost by 1,200 votes to Liberal Dan Ashton in the provincial election.

"The people of the South Okanagan-West Kootenay have voted for change," Cannings said in his victory speech.

"As I look out at this room, I see a great team, and it is so humbling to have such a hard-working team."

"My office door will always be open, and together we can build a better country and a Canada we can be proud of once again."

Cannings also thanked his fellow candidates for a good campaign.

He also talked about driving around the riding with his brother at the end of the campaign, "because candidates are nervous and there is not much left to do, so why not drive around the riding?"

Cannings will have four years to get familiar with every part of the riding.



Neufeld gracious in defeat

As Prime Minister-elect Justin Trudeau's victory speech rolled to a conclusion, someone among the Conservative faithful in Penticton switched off the television to let Marshall Neufeld make his concession address.

Candidate Neufeld thanked the assembled volunteers for their hard work, noting the losing campaign had knocked on between 22,000 and 23,000 doors but, "It didn't work out the way we had hoped."

The candidate, who aligned himself early in the campaign with the Reform Party roots of his mentor, former area MP Stockwell Day, was in third place behind New Democrat Richard Cannings and Liberal Connie Denesiuk at the time of his speech.

The room at the Ramada conference centre in Penticton featured a raised platform with Canadian flags, a lectern and a large "Elect Neufeld" sign.

The set was clearly meant for a victory address. A subdued Neufeld ignored the platform and made his remarks from the floor, surrounded by supporters.

Neufeld noted he had called Cannings to congratulate him and said, "I expect he will a good representative for this riding."

In an interview following his speech, Neufeld refused to speculate on why he lost, saying he is "thankful for the support he did receive and proud of the campaign.

He also would not say whether he will run for office in the future, but acknowledged that, at 33, he is still young enough to have many campaigns ahead of him.



McLeod wins in Kamloops



Albas victorious



Albas: Voters got it right

Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola MP elect, Dan Albas said the Canadian electorate got it right.

"They always get it right," said Albas of Monday's federal election results.

"I'm a big believer in democracy and the people are never wrong. As disappointing as it will be for many conservatives and people who supported the prime minister's vision ... this is Canada, and Canada is great because of our democracy

"Canadians have had stable, strong government ever since the prime minister took office in 2006, but clearly people wanted change and to go in a different direction. As parliamentarians, we have to respect that."

While disappointed in the national results, Albas was honoured his constituents had faith in him to give him another four years in Ottawa.

"It comes back to the reason I ran in the first place, to make sure the citizens I was working to represent receive proper representation in Ottawa so their voice is heard," said Albas.

As for working from an opposition seat, Albas said it shouldn't affect his ability to get the necessary federal funds to complete projects.

"For example, West Kelowna has a deep infrastructure challenge before it. I've had success working with ministers in the Conservative government because I've made a good business case for why those investments are important."

While it was a mixed day at the Albas camp, Liberal candidate Karly Scott was overjoyed.

"We have a Liberal majority government. This is what we all worked hard for," said Scott.

"This is such a euphoric feeling."

Scott, who had yet to concede personal defeat, asid she was not surprised by the national results.

"It's not surprising, but It's so nice to see it actually happen. All those conversations we've been having, all those doors we've been knocking on. All of the waving at people we've been doing and the honks and waves we got back have translated into a majority government."

Scott, a political rookie, said she was thrilled with her first foray into politics.

"We have a committed, tenacious, small but mighty team. I am so proud of the optimistic, forward-looking campaign that we ran."



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