John Barlow, Conservative MP for the Foothills, won by a landslide Sept. 20, capturing 69 per cent of the vote. But campaigning isn’t just about winning support or a seat, he says, it’s about connecting with people and giving back to the community.
“I don’t think it’s something you can just step into. You have to build towards it and that means being involved in your community either as a volunteer or service club or fundraisers,” he says. “I think constituents want to have someone representing them who they know has had many of the same experiences.”
He campaigned door to door across the riding, from the Springbank district on the outskirts of Calgary, to rural communities south of Okotoks like High River and Claresholm, to communities near Lethbridge like Pincher Creek and Crowsnest Pass.
The election marks Barlow’s fourth consecutive win in the Foothills riding, and this time around, he had some unexpected help along the campaign trail.
About a dozen high school students went door-knocking with him in the two weeks leading up to the election, their largest youth turnout ever.
“Just to have that youthful energy and enthusiasm was just great,” he says, attributing the high participation rate to their newly hired youth co-ordinators.
Barlow’s win is regarded by many as a success for the region, in what otherwise has been referred to by some as the most pointless election in history.
The Liberals fell short of a majority government for the second time, losing seven seats, and the Conservatives lost leadership in decisive ridings near Toronto and Vancouver. Green party leader Annamie Paul lost her bid in her Toronto riding and, while Bloc Québécois and NDP did not fare poorly, they did not gain seats.
Neither the Maverick Party nor the People’s Party of Canada won space in the House of Commons, although the PPC earned five per cent of the popular vote, up 3.4 points from 2019.
Conservative leader Erin O’Toole voiced his displeasure at the election results in an interview Sept. 21. The election further divided the country and cost the nation a large amount of money for very little gain, he said.
On election night, Yves-François Blanchet, leader of Bloc Québécois, apologized for the unfavourable outcome and slammed Trudeau for “interrupting his barbecue” with pointless news.
As for Barlow, he says he’s disappointed.
“It’s kind of deja-vu. It seems to be a waste of $600 million,” he says. “This election looks like it’s going to settle out as very similar to what it was going in.”
On the campaign trail, Barlow says, he encountered many Albertans who were upset that an election was being called in a time of economic crisis.
“We had a drought here, forest fires, certainly the pandemic, you know, I don’t think people saw there was a reason for this election.”
Barlow remains optimistic about his campaign and he’s looking forward to getting back out there, connecting more towns to high-speed internet, fighting rural crime, and helping businesses and farms recover from financial losses incurred during the pandemic.
His platform hasn’t changed at all, he says, and he’ll continue to work on the projects he already started.
“It’s still an honour. Any time you have the confidence and the support of your constituents, it’s an incredible feeling to know that you’ve earned that vote.”
Gillian Francis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shootin' the Breeze