Carol Hughes returned as A-M-K Member of Parliament

MP elect Carol Hughes celebrates victory in the 2021 election.

Liberal Party of Canada to form second consecutive minority government

by Michael Erskine and Tom Sasvari

MANITOULIN – The election for the Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing (AMK) seat in the 44th Canadian Parliament was declared early in the evening for NDP incumbent Carol Hughes who took an early lead over her opponents on Monday evening—a lead that continued to grow as more polls came in. Ms. Hughes has held the riding since defeating Liberal Brent St. Denis in 2008, overturning what was until then was a 60-year Liberal hegemony.

The 36-day campaign was among the shorter elections in Canadian history and proved to be particularly challenging for all of the candidates trying to bring their message to the 62,000-odd voters spread across a riding one-sixth the size of France.

There were 20 percent of eligible votes cast in advanced polls in AMK, the number of mail-in ballots was unclear as of press time Monday, as mail-in votes could continue to come in up until 9:30 pm on election day and would not even be counted until at least Tuesday. Elections Canada officials advised that a final and complete tally might not be available for several days. But given the margin enjoyed by Ms. Hughes, those ballots stand no chance of changing the result.

A jubilant Carol Hughes was celebrating her significant win over her rivals for the AMK seat in the 44th Parliament. As requested by Elections Canada, the incumbent MP was holding her election watch gathering virtually rather than the in-person event that would take place in normal times.

“I certainly appreciate the vote of confidence placed in me by the people of Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing,” she said. “I want to thank the Indigenous communities for the work that they did on my behalf.”

Ms. Hughes said she regretted not being able to knock on doors the way she would normally have, particularly in Indigenous communities, many of whom were observing strict limitations on social interactions. “Still, I was able to count on many individuals who got my signs out in the communities across the riding,” she said. 

“I tip my hat to Chief Duke (Peltier, the Liberal candidate), Mr. (John) Sagman (the Conservative candidate), Mr. (Harry) Jaaskelainen (People’s Party of Canada), Mr. (Stephen) Zimmermann (Green Party) and Mr. (Clarence) Baarda (Christian Heritage Party) for the work they did during the campaign,” she said. “I am pleased they had the opportunity to hear about the issues facing our riding.”

Ms. Hughes said that it was too early to talk about whether she would be running for the office of Speaker of the House when Parliament resumes, having served as an assistant deputy speaker during the 43rd Parliament.

“I am certainly considering that, but right now there is still a lot of work that needs doing,” she said, pointing to the issues of affordability and internet access. “The pandemic has certainly highlighted the disadvantages of not having adequate internet and cell service that have placed a disproportionate barrier to education and to conducting business.” She noted that service seems to have deteriorated during the pandemic. “I will continue to harass the government to address these issues,” asserted Ms. Hughes. “I look forward to continuing to serve the people of Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing.”

For his part, runner-up John Sagman, the Conservative Party of Canada candidate for AMK called his first political election a learning experience, one that he enjoyed and something that he would consider doing again. Mr. Sagman, who has lived in Willisville for the past 10 years, came in second place in the polls for AMK as of this week’s press deadline Monday night. 

“I met a lot of great people over the course of the campaign, enjoyed meeting people, door knocking, and the debates. It was a lot of fun, and I’m glad for the experience,” said Mr. Sagman. “I’m doing pretty good tonight based on the results so far, so we’ll see where the rest of the voting takes us. I fought my way through and did the best I could.”

MP elect Carol Hughes celebrates victory in the 2021 election.

Mr. Sagman stated, “I’d definitely look at running again. But hopefully there will be a good period of time taken before the next election is called. This was a difficult time to have an election.”

As for the national election results, with the Justin Trudeau Liberal government projected as of press deadline of forming a minority government, Mr. Sagman said, “I’m disappointed in the national results. One of the main reasons I decided to run in the election is because of what has been going on nationally. For example, the Auditor General has been blocked in every step of the way on many issues.” 

However, Mr. Sagman added, “the voters decide what is the best direction for the country, and they have made their decision. That is why elections are held.” 

Duke Peltier, the AMK Liberal candidate admitted that the campaign had been an “uphill battle” from the start.

“I want to first thank all of the volunteers who came out to support me,” he said. “All of the individuals who engaged in conversations of what they thought the nation needs and those individuals who put their faith in me as a candidate. I want to congratulate Carol (Hughes) on running a successful campaign as the member for this riding.”

Mr. Peltier said the short duration of the campaign was definitely a major handicap in running for office in such a huge riding. As for the next steps, Mr. Peltier, who is the chief of Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory said that there is still much work to do within his community and his focus would now return to dealing with those challenges.