The race was tight between the Conservatives and the New Democratic Party as numbers from the polls in the St. Albert-Edmonton riding began to pour in. NDP candidate Kathleen Mpulubusi was excited.
“I was like, ‘Oh, this could happen,’” she said.
The NDP did not win a seat in the riding on Monday night, but support for the party, and Mpulubusi, almost doubled compared to the last election.
Elections Canada is reporting 28.7 per cent of the vote to Mpulubusi compared to 15.2 per cent in 2019. She received 9,895 votes in 2019 whereas this year, she received 17,067 votes.
Mpulubusi said obviously she wanted to win but she is quite pleased with the results.
“I think it really shows that there is a definite appetite ... for change. People are not content with the status quo. There's a definite portion of the electorate saying that,” she said.
On top of that appetite for change by the electorate, Mpulubusi said the party worked really hard throughout the election period to let people know they were an option.
Conservative MP Michael Cooper may have won the seat in the riding, but he slid from 60.7 per cent support to 47.6 per cent.
Cooper blames that slide on the unpopularity of the provincial government, but Mpulubusi thinks he might be missing the mark on that one.
“He thinks he lost some votes to the [People’s Party of Canada]. He sort of seems to be wanting to blame it sort of on external factors,” she said.
When she was out canvassing, Mpulubusi heard a different story from people.
A lot of people, she said, were not impressed with his views on conversion therapy,
“People are still remembering back in 2019 when he made some very anti-Islamic comments and read into the parliamentary record that mosque shooter's manifesto. I heard a lot ... that people didn't feel like he really represented them. That he didn't really represent the views of probably more of the mainstream of the community, which I don't think is near as socially conservative as he is,” she said.
She said he is also focused on issues of criminal justice and that may not entirely reflect what issues the riding is concerned with.
“My passions are certainly, human rights, women's rights, labour, community building, that sort of all by.
“It's not all external factors [for Cooper’s loss of numbers] … I think I've shown right now that people want a viable alternative. And that St. Albert isn't the Conservative beachhead that everyone thinks it is,” she said.
From here, Mpulubusi said the party overall will be pushing forward with the agenda they have laid out.
“[The NDP are] in the position of holding the balance of power, so I think now we'll be pushing forward with the large part of our agenda,” she said.
That agenda includes tax reform, pharmacare, dental care, strengthening the health-care system, and reconciliation.
Mpulubusi doesn’t think the minority government is a negative.
“In many ways sometimes minority governments aren't a bad thing … quite often it's in our minority governments that we get a lot of stuff done,” she said.
Mpulubusi said she is not going away, and she is encouraged by the election results.
“If I didn't win, I really wanted to have a really strong second place, you know, a very definitive second place. So, I think I did accomplish that.”