New MP ready to continue Brown’s work
BROCKVILLE— For the moment, it’s about continuity.
Michael Barrett, the newly elected MP for Leeds- Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes, plans to start on his new job by following up on the work so sadly interrupted by the sudden death of his friend and Tory colleague, Gord Brown, in May.
On Tuesday, a day after his resounding byelection victory, Barrett said that being elected was a humbling experience.
“It’s all the more humbling to receive the support by the margin that I received,” Barrett added.
The Conservative candidate and former Edwardsburgh/Cardinal councillor received 57.8 per cent of the vote, compared to 35.8 per cent for Liberal challenger Mary Jean McFall.
Barrett planned to meet with the national Conservative caucus on Wednesday and work on setting up an office on Parliament Hill, then look at office space in the riding the following day.
“My hope is that I’m able to ensure continuity,” said Barrett, adding he hopes to keep the staffers who worked for Brown and are fully versed on the late MP’s files.
Barrett attributed the magnitude of his victory to two factors.
The first is hard work, he said, noting he and his campaign volunteers worked tirelessly and knocked on thousands of doors across the riding.
The second is widespread concern about the Trudeau government’s fiscal management.
“We heard consistently that people are very nervous about [Prime Minister] Justin Trudeau’s deficit budgeting and growing our debt,” he said. “Folks in this riding, they spoke loud and clear on how they feel about the Trudeau Liberals.”
Once he officially assumes the title of MP, Barrett plans to check into what progress has been made in his predecessor’s efforts to secure compensation for victims of thalidomide. Barrett said government officials have said the money is in the works but this needs to be confirmed.
Another immediate priority is tariffs.
The incoming MP added area businesses are suffering from reciprocal tariffs imposed by Ottawa on the United States in an ongoing trade dispute with the Trump administration. Canadians have not seen the full impacts of concessions the Trudeau government made in negotiations for the revised North American trade deal, including effects on the locally vital agricultural sector, Barrett said.
Canada’s reciprocal tariffs have not had the desired persuasive effect on the Americans, but in many cases they are hurting Canadian businesses that may suffer tariff impacts both ways, being hit first by Washington and then by Ottawa, he added.
Barrett hopes to speak to the appropriate authorities about lifting Canada’s reciprocal tariffs.
As Barrett remained humbled by a commanding victory, McFall on Tuesday had yet to analyze fully the numbers behind her defeat.
In an interview Tuesday, McFall again congratulated Barrett and said the campaign was conducted respectfully.
“I’m sure he will do great things as member of Parliament for our riding,” she said.
Despite a drop in the Liberals’ share of the local vote, McFall remains hopeful the party will have a shot at victory in the national election to be held next October.
Nonetheless, her initial reaction as the numbers came in was to recognize the historical political leanings of this riding.
“We expected to do well and my gut tells me that this riding ... defaults to blue, that’s for sure,” she said.
Still, she added, the riding can sometimes turn to red.
McFall said she has given no thought to her immediate future, or whether she might attempt a third run for the MP’s seat next year.
Her immediate goal is to continue contributing to the community.
“It’s a great privilege to participate in the democratic process,” McFall said. “It’s what makes our country great.”
Michael Barrett thanks supporters after being elected MP for Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes in a federal byelection on Monday.