‘An awful lot of effort for the same results’

Re-elected Yorkton-Melville MP Cathay Wagantall

September 29, 2021, 2:51 pm

Wagantall with her campaign team.

Conservative Cathay Wagantall won the riding of Yorkton-Melville with 69 per cent of the vote, one of the largest margins across Canada. World-Spectator editor Kevin Weedmark spoke to her last week about the election.

What’s your take on the election?
An awful lot of effort for the same results, ultimately. Unfortunately I lost a couple of very good colleagues that I hate to see gone but our numbers are roughly the same as they were before and we’re back basically in the same dynamic as was frustrating Mr. Trudeau so badly that he claimed he couldn’t get anything done and it’s because we did our job. But he did enough harm regardless and I’m very concerned about what the future’s going to look like.

Were you surprised that it ended up with roughly the same numbers or did you think there would be more of a change?
I was very hopeful for a change. But Trudeau won again and the PPC did play into that to some degree. They impacted our bottom line a little bit, not anywhere near what they expected but they did split votes and handed some seats to the Liberals and we see the results.

I did my darnedest to communicate to them that in spite of a lot of frustration, you have to be strategic in how you vote, but there were some votes for the PPC that took away seats from the Conservatives and here we are.

What do you think of the local results? You ended up with about 70 per cent of the vote.
If I was to compare my three campaigns, this one had absolutely the highest personal one-on-one engagement, email, phone, texting, people asking questions and wanting solid answers for a lot of concerns. Everything from of course the issues around Covid to how we would create jobs to you name it. It was phenomenal and I’ve never invested the extent of time involved in doing that response and it paid off because clearly people put their trust in me once again and that’s so incredibly amazing to me, just the level of support. We were on the road and I regretted we couldn’t spend more time in each location because it was fairly limited and fairly fast. I think, that also said, I’m here and I’m committed. Folks put their confidence in me again so that meant a lot.

What do you think the future holds for the next few years given the election results?
Well, I think if Mr. Trudeau thought he had trouble functioning in parliament then, he’s going to be even more surprised now because we’re to the point where Covid cannot be the issue it’s been that he’s been able to use as a tool to disrupt and separate and divide.

Personally I will not be told that I can’t be in the House of Commons. We need to be there, we need to be where we’re supposed to be, we’re an essential service and we don’t function the same way in any way when your committees are not in-person and you are not walking across the floor and talking and challenging in the house where you have to stand up and make yourself known. I certainly will be encouraging our caucus to say ‘enough.’

This is the second minority for Mr. Trudeau, the second time he has lost the popular vote to the Conservatives and the lowest percentage of the vote any minority government has ever been elected with. Do you think that will impact his approach to governing?
No, no I think somehow in his mind he thinks he’ll be able to transfer everything into a mandate and that somehow he will believe he’s representing what Canadians want. He will tend to govern as though he does have a majority. He was functioning like a majority. I’m curious to see what happens with those other parties and where they go. I know that if we had formed the minority, we had the ability with lots of our platform to get the support of the other parties regardless.

What do you expect will happen within the Conservative Party at this point? Will there be a questioning of Mr. O’Toole’s performance or will people rally around him?
It just makes sense to do that kind of a review. We need to look at everything from every angle and go okay here’s what happened. I’m sure they will be doing that as well, those that were involved in the national campaign. Okay, somehow they had determined that it would be the best interest and that they would win seats in places where I don’t see that we’ve won seats, and we’ve lost proportionately. In British Columbia we have lost some very good colleagues, quality colleagues, that are not coming back. That all plays a part. I am sure just knowing how our caucus works under normal conditions that we will be discussing and sharing, very directly, perspectives on different things. I would expect that there would be a lot of soul searching and a review of what took place.

In the long-term does the Conservative Party need to do something differently to counter the rise of the newer parties, the Mavericks and the PPC? Do they pose a threat to the possibility of the Conservatives forming government in the future?
That’s a very good question and historically that’s the case. When we aren’t one mind we do defeat ourselves as well as do the Liberals or the other parties. We’ll have to wait and see how they come out of this as well.

Believe me, I worked so hard to try to communicate the reality of the circumstances we’re in. At the debate I just said you know, you want more freedoms, you want your freedoms protected, but by splitting the vote you’ve guaranteed that if there is a Liberal minority, your freedoms are far more in danger than they ever were before, and I just don’t understand the rationale behind the PPC and the direction that they, under Maxime Bernier, chose to take. However, he again, is not in the House of Commons.

 Cathay Wagantall giving someone<br />
a ride to the polls on election day.


What are your priorities for the next session?
Well, personally, I will challenge in the house anything that the Prime Minister brings forward that isn’t in the best interests of Canadians or of rural Canada because the level of appreciation from his government of the role that we play in the prosperity of this nation is frighteningly low.

The GDP comes from rural Canada and so I know we’re heading into a future here where we’re really looking at the whole boundary issue and all those kinds of things and we do need to make sure that there’s a reasonable representation of the balance of not just our populations but also of the prosperity of the nation and where it comes from. Head offices in cities are not where the resources are. Those offices are in those cities because the resources exist and the opportunities exist in rural Canada. That’s a very important thing to me.

A lot of people see an east/west divide, do you see an urban/rural divide in Canada?
I think there’s a push to turn Canada into a more urban place than ever before and we need to stem that tide and part of the Conservative proposal of having infrastructure funding that is targeted only to rural Canada and having a minister of rural Canada I thought would be a very good thing. Now whether it’s not there because they don’t realize it needs to be there or because they choose not to have it is a clear indicator of where their priorities are.

What did you learn in this election campaign?
I learned that face to face conversations, even though there’s always other means of doing it, are the best way to communicate. There’s nothing more important than face to face. Quite honestly. The need for people to be able to express themselves was paramount. I mean that obviously with their votes but even prior to that to really have that sense of confidence and the people they are being asked to vote for. I think it’s more important than ever.

What’s different around here? In southeast Saskatchewan and southwest Manitoba again the vast majority of voters supported Conservative candidates. What’s different between here and other parts of the country where the Conservative messages just doesn’t resonate?
Well, we are wonderfully unique Kevin. An individual who moved here two months ago from Ontario said his family and friends were just going ‘what are you doing?’ and basically he said it’s the best decision he’s ever made.

There’s something about this area, and I don’t think we’re even seeing it in ourselves the way we need to, how down to earth, a little bit more relaxed, a lot more relaxed in our lifestyle and our priorities.

But I’m very honored to have this role again and I am excited to be back.