Rafferty caught in ‘red tide’

Duane Hicks

“You’ve got three inevitabilities in life: You’ve got death and taxes, and if you’re an MP, eventually you’re going to be a former MP.”
Words of wisdom from former MP John Rafferty in the wake of Monday’s “red tide” that swept most of Canada, including here in Thunder Bay-Rainy River where Liberal candidate Don Rusnak won decisively.
“There’s not much you can do against a big wave, as other parties found out in Quebec and Alberta previously,” Rafferty told the Times this morning.
“That’s the way it goes.”
Rafferty said he wasn’t entirely surprised by the outcome of the election here nor overall, but he did not expect a Liberal majority.
“I think that was a surprise but I certainly expected Mr. Harper to be gone; I certainly knew that from talking to people and knocking on doors,” he remarked.
“It was a long campaign but up until a couple weeks ago, it was not clear how at least people in this riding were going to go,” Rafferty added.
Rafferty took a moment to muse on the new Trudeau government.
“I think Mr. Trudeau will find out shortly that he’s made lots of promises and we’ll see if they happen,” he remarked.
“For example, in terms of this election being the last ‘first past the post [system],’ I suspect that’s not going to change even though he’s promised that.
“The legalizing marijuana—I’m not entirely sure that’s going to happen,” Rafferty said, also noting the Liberals only seem to have “lukewarm support” for the “Ring of Fire” mining development.
On the other hand, Rafferty said if the Liberals carry through with the infrastructure dollars they’ve promised, “that will be a good thing” for communities in the riding.
“I guess I’m cautiously optimistic that Mr. Trudeau is going to be able to fulfil his promises,” he remarked.
Looking back, Rafferty said he’s very proud of the work he’s done in the riding over the past two terms.
“I’m particularly proud of my staff and the work that they’ve done,” he noted.
“I’d say in the past seven years, we’ve helped literally thousands of people on all kinds of federal issues. [And] hopefully we’ve made life better for many people in Thunder Bay-Rainy River.
“I’m absolutely pleased with the work we’ve done in the last seven years,” Rafferty reiterated.
“It’s unfortunate that we are not going to be able to continue but I’m certainly going to work with Don Rusnak to ensure the transition’s as smooth as possible,” he pledged.
As of yesterday, Rafferty and his staff have 17 days to get their offices closed.
“There’s inventory to take and shredding to be done. There’s all kinds of stuff,” he explained.
“One of the things that happens in this transition—and it’s unfortunate for people we’ve been helping—is they have to start all over again with the new MP.
“We have to shred all personal information from case files and that kind of stuff,” he stressed.
“It’s too bad you just can’t continue but that’s not the way it works.”
Rafferty also thanked his constituents for the faith they’ve put in him over the last two terms.
“I hope that I’ve put Thunder Bay-Rainy River on the map in Ottawa, which I believe I have, and I hope that we’re better off for my seven years being there,” he said.
Rafferty, who lives in Neebing with his wife, Pam, said he hasn’t thought too much about running again, noting the next provincial and federal elections are “a long way off.”
“Lots can happen in between then,” he noted. “I may find that my retirement suits me quite nicely.
“We’ll have to wait and see.”
Conservative candidate Moe Comuzzi, who was the runner-up in 2011, placed third this time around with 21.1 percent of the vote (8,876).
She was unavailable for comment prior to press time today, but told tbnewswatch.com: “The outcome is what the outcome is.”
“You can’t change that but tomorrow morning [Tuesday] we’re going to wake up with a Liberal government and we remember Pierre Elliott,” Comuzzi said.
“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Liberal government and God bless us,” she added.
“I don’t agree with their policies.”
Meanwhile, local Green Party candidate Christy Radbourne told the Times she enjoyed her first run at federal politics, and was pleased to see 2,201 electors voted for her (5.2 percent).
“Running in the federal election was a journey of learning and opportunity,” she said yesterday.
“I truly felt I accomplished what I set out to do; gathering 2,100 votes [close to triple our last performance] and the debates reflected the priorities I and the Green Party felt were important for our community and the country,” she remarked.
“And, yes, I will consider running again in the next election.
“Thank you to all who voted, volunteered, and supported me and the Greens throughout this campaign,” Radbourne enthused.