THUNDER BAY – Before we get too far along in the business of the 41st Parliament I would like to take a moment to thank each and every constituent of Thunder Bay – Rainy River who cast a vote in the May 2 federal election and to the other candidates who offered their name on the ballot and carried out their campaigns in a competitive but respectful manner. I would also like to offer a special thank you to the 48.7 percent who decided I should return to Ottawa to work on your behalf.
The right to vote is the most important right and freedom in our democracy. It is what ensures we have a representative and legitimate democratic government and is the first step to ensuring that the will of the people trumps all other interests. To those who cast a ballot in support I will continue to work hard and demonstrate that your trust was not misplaced. To those who supported one of the other candidates I would like you to know that my door remains open and that I will always remember that I am your representative in Ottawa as much as anyone else’s.
This election was a transformational one in many ways. First, I must acknowledge and congratulate Mr. Harper and his Conservatives for electing a majority of MPs in the House in the Commons for the first time under his leadership. We must acknowledge that a majority of seats is a majority of seats in our system, but we should not forget that 60 percent of Canadians and more than 70 percent of voters who cast a ballot in Thunder Bay – Rainy River did not support this new Conservative mandate. As part of my own mandate as your Member of Parliament I will be working with my New Democrat colleagues to ensure that Canada has a strong, united, and principled opposition to the Harper Conservatives in Ottawa – one that always puts the interest of you and your family first.
New Democrats have every reason to be proud of our result in this election. For this first time ever our caucus will form the Official Opposition in Ottawa, and the 103 Members of Parliament that will now sit with me in parliament is the largest contingent of New Democrat MPs ever in Ottawa as well as the largest Official Opposition ever in a majority government. The Liberals were reduced a historic low of just 34 seats, and the success of my New Democrat colleagues in Quebec limited the Bloc Quebecois to just four MPs in the House of Commons – not even enough to be recognized as an official party.
This is the parliament that you and other Canadians have chosen and the people are never wrong. I look forward to continuing my work on your behalf and will continue to work with other MPs of every political stripe to advance our common causes, with my New Democrat colleagues to oppose some of the misguided policies that we are sure to see this Conservative government put forward over the next four years, and to offer practical and affordable solutions to the problems facing Canadians today. We will look out for your family, for Northern Canada and Northwestern Ontario, and will work hard over the next four years as the Official Opposition to prove that we are in fact worthy of being referred to as “The Government in Waiting.”
John Rafferty MP
Thunder Bay Rainy River