The momentum of the Liberal Party’s campaign was not immediately apparent to local volunteers working for Dan Ruimy.
David Buydens worked for 11 weeks on the campaign, the longest election in Canadian history, and admitted the local Liberals didn’t hit the ground running.
“It started slow, we were way behind anybody else,” he said. “Mike Murray and the NDP already had their signs up, but we hadn’t even got our signs.
“It was four weeks before we were going to vote, then the signs finally showed up.”
Despite the slow start, he said the local Liberals were part of a national effort that exceeded all expectations.
“The whole country was wondering, was it going to be a minority – we never dreamed of a majority,” he said.
“We were planning for a minority, and where we would store the signs for the next election, in 18 months or whenever it came around.”
On election night, the volunteers talked at the campaign headquarters, ate cupcakes with red sprinkles, and watched election coverage from Ottawa.
“I said ,‘Dan, you’re going to be sitting in one of those seats,’” said Buydens. “It’s amazing. I get very emotional about this. It’s very neat.”
Alex Pope, a former council and provincial Green Party candidate, is a member of the local Liberal electoral district association and saw Ruimy as electable.
A positive message of change was the key, he said.
“I knew it was possible for Dan to do well,” he said. “He worked really, really hard.
“There’s a lot of people who walk into his book shop and got to know him. People who have talked to him one-on-one are very impressed.”
Campaign manager Nicole Nouch said scandals like the Mike Duffy trial apparently hurt Harper, and convinced people who had formerly voted Conservative to support another party.
“They wanted to vote for something that was positive, and upbeat. And that’s what Dan and I tried to do in this riding too – try to make sure we don’t throw anybody under the bus, but just be strong on our own,” she said. “And Dan’s done an amazing job.”
Ruimy said he spoke with a lot of people during his election run.
“We’ve run a grassroots campaign of talking to people, one constituent at a time, half an hour here, and half an hour there. We listen to what they’re saying.”
In his victory speech, Prime Minister Elect Justin Trudeau said “This is what positive politics can do.”
Ruimy echoed that on election night.
“Where we were as a country before – divided, distrust, hate – that’s not who we are. And I think that this shows, that’s not who we want to be,” he said. “I think we’ve stood up and spoken.”