By Charlie Senack
Nepean MP Chandra Arya has been elected for a third term in office after winning September’s snap federal election with 45 per cent of the vote.
Receiving 28,785 votes total, Arya did not waver in support compared to the 2019 election when he won with 31,933 votes — equalling 45.9 per cent of the vote. Conservative candidate Matt Triemstra came in second place with 21,635 votes (34 per cent), and NDP candidate Sean Devine came in third place with 10,541 votes (16 per cent). Jay Nera, the People’s Party of Canada candidate received 1,811 votes (three per cent), and Green Party candidate Gordon Kubanek received 1,288 votes (two per cent).
Arya said he is proud to serve the residents of Nepean for another four years on Parliament Hill.
“The percentage is almost the same as last time so I am glad; I am humbled; I am honoured; and I am privileged that the people of Nepean have re-elected me with a very comfortable margin,” said Arya. “It proves that the work I have been doing for the past six years, the interactions I’ve had with the community, the work our team is doing, it’s been recognized and rewarded I can say.”
On September 20, Justin Trudeau and the Liberals won a minority government, with their seat count remaining virtually unchanged. With a $600 million price tag for a snap election which many have called unnecessary, there are now many questions about where that money could have been better spent.
But Arya says it was a worthy election because back in 2019 when Canadians hit the polls last, dealing with a global health pandemic wasn’t a subject on voters’ minds. With big decisions to be made on how to deal with COVID-19 going forward, Arya says the Liberals have been given a mandate to continue with the work they were doing.
“It achieved quite a bit,” he said. “The fundamental thing it achieved is that Canadians have given us the mandate to proceed as we have proposed. Now we have a clear mandate for mandatory vaccinations, vaccine passports, and all the other things we have asked Canadians to give us, and we have given them a really good mandate to succeed.”
On issues Arya plans to advocate for over the next four years, three main objectives come to mind: Affordable housing, retirement security, and a knowledge-based economy to ensure Canada’s future and the success of upcoming generations.
For now Arya says that starts with bringing an end to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There will be some immediate and not so immediate decisions we will have to make,” the third term Nepean MP said. “The immediate ones are regarding what we are going to do with vaccine mandates and vaccine passports. We have already committed to the provinces that we will support the tools they are providing.”
Arya also says he’s passionate about bringing in $10 a day child care and lowering housing prices. In August 2021, the average Freehold House Price in Ottawa was $730,304 — up 12.6 per cent — and the average condominium price in the capital was $413,624 — up 5.9 per cent.
When it comes to funding for light rail transit out to Barrhaven, Arya says he’s fully on board. The 10-kilometre extension to the Confederation line would take trains from Baseline Station at Algonquin College to the core of Barrhaven at Marketplace Station. Shovels however won’t be in the ground until at least 2025, after phase two is complete.
“Any infrastructure proposal that has come to the federal government from the city or the province, we have always positively funded,” states Arya. “We have stated clearly in writing our interest to fund infrastructure projects in transit. Of course I’d love to have the Barrhaven LRT next year, so whenever the city is ready to submit a proposal, it will have our full backing.
However, under the current phase three plan, 120 low-income homes would have to be bulldozed, leaving about 300 people homeless. The townhomes which are situated in the Manor Village and Cheryl Garden Communities, rent for about $1200 a month and are considered on the low income scale. Arya says those residents would be provided with alternative arrangements.
“Any project of that magnetite will (negatively) impact some residents, however the amount of money we are investing into affordable housing in Ottawa is unprecedented,” he said.
The Conservatives had hoped this would be their year to not only form government, but also turn the riding of Nepean fully blue. Candidate Matt Triemstra held an election night party for his volunteers at Boston Pizza on Greenbank Road.
Losing by about 11 per cent of the vote, it was a similar margin to what the Nepean Conservatives saw in 2019, when then candidate Brian St. Louis lost by over 12 per cent. In that election 23,320 voters cast their ballot for the Conservatives, totalling 33.5 per cent.
In a statement sent to the Barrhaven Independent, Triemstra said he and his team worked “incredibly hard”, and was proud to have represented the party in Nepean.
“Despite a short runway between my nomination closing and the snap election getting called, we built an incredible organization, reached thousands of residents at their doors and put forward a compelling vision for Nepean residents that focused on mental health, housing and affordability,” he said. “Politics is a team sport and I will forever be grateful to our volunteers and donors. I simply could not have done this without an experienced campaign manager, a supportive wife and family and committed Nepean Conservatives willing to work hard to see change.
“Even though this was not the outcome we hoped for, I know that this was simply the first step of my political journey,” Triemstra added. “I am committed to working with the Nepean Conservative Association to make sure we are ready to fight, and win the next election, whenever it comes! Trudeau desperately wanted a majority government and he was denied, so with virtually the exact same Parliament in place, we fully expect another election in 15-18 months.”
NDP candidate Sean Devine, who last ran during the 2015 election, more than doubled the vote he saw six years ago. It was also a higher margin than what was seen in 2019 when then NDP Nepean candidate Zaff Ansari took 9,104 votes, coming in third place at 13.1 per cent.
“All things considered, I’d say that the NDP had a fantastic 2021 campaign in Nepean,” said Devine. “Look at the facts. I was only announced as the candidate on August 23rd, and so we had far less time on the ground than our opponents. Our local campaign budget was a fraction of the Liberal or Conservative campaign budgets, yet we saw our vote percentage increase from the last election to this one.
“And the Liberals and Conservatives saw their percentages decrease in Nepean over that same timespan,” he added. “Since I first ran as the candidate in the 2015 federal election, and when you factor in my NDP colleague Zaff Ansari’s provincial and federal campaigns in 2018 and 2019, the NDP’s voter base in Nepean has consistently increased, but the Liberals and Conservatives have seen their percentages slowly drop. Change will take time in Nepean, but it’s coming. Not only from the 18 – 34 year-old demographic, but across all age groups.”
Triemstra and Devine will be meeting for coffee next week to celebrate their respective campaigns, and to share campaign “battle stories.”