Now that the federal election is over can we finally put to bed the idea that Orléans is a competitive riding. It's not. In the past 120 years it's only elected one Conservative candidate to the House of Commons. And the last time a Conservative member represented the riding in the provincial legislature besides Brian Coburn, who I will get to in a minute, was 1981.
Coburn was an anomaly. He was an incredibly popular mayor in Cumberland and he ran when the Harris government was at the height at its popularity. He lost his seat in 2003 to Phil McNeely in the same election the Liberals swept to power under Dalton McGuinty. The riding has been red provincially ever since.
The only Conservative to represent Orléans in the House of Commons federally in the past 120 years was Royal Galipeau, but he was an anomaly also. His win in 2006 can be chalked up to a stronger that usually performance by the NDP candidate that year.
The NDP traditionally get 10 per cent of the vote in Orléans. In 2006, Mark Leahy got 15 per cent of the vote. The NDP's gain came at the expense of the Liberals. Leahy got 3,000 votes more than the NDP candidates who ran in the federal elections before him and after him.
Keep in mind that Marc Godbout, who was the Liberal incumbent at the time, lost to Galipeau by just 1,200 votes. If any other person had of run for the NDP other than Mark Leahy in 2006, Godbout would have won and the Liberal monopoly on the riding would have continued unabated.
In hindsight, David Bertschi never had a chance against Marie-France Lalonde in the last election, not because of any flaws in his own campaign, but because the NDP failed to put forward a candidate who could have eroded the Liberal vote sufficiently enough to put the riding at risk.
So what about the future? Is there any hope that the riding will turn blue anytime soon? The answer is not likely.
The Liberals have traditionally been able to count on the overwhelming support of the francophone community, which votes in proportionally larger numbers than the anglophone community, and more recently they've enjoyed a disproportionate amount of support among new Canadians and visible minorities which gives them a huge advantage from election to election.
The only way for the Conservatives to improve their odds is to nominate an individual who has an existing amount of gravitas in the community and is a francophone. Even if a potential candidate covers those two bases, they would still need a strong NDP candidate in the race to even have any chance of unseating Marie-France Lalonde.
Let's face it. Orléans voters stuck with the Liberals and elected Lalonde to the provincial legislature in 2018 in an election that reduced the Liberal Party to just six seats.
The Liberals will next test the riding's loyalty in the future by-election to replace Lalonde at Queen's Park. Judging by the recent past, you would be a fool to bet against them.
� Fred Sherwin,