It may rightfully be stated that Sault Ste. Marie came within less than 250 votes of potentially shooting itself in the foot at the recent federal election.
That is because Conservative challenger Sonny Spina came oh so close to unseating Liberal incumbent Terry Sheehan. And had Spina prevailed, the Sault would have been on the outside looking in given that Canada re-elected Justin Trudeau of the Liberals as Prime Minister for what is now a third term.
If elected, the politically unfledged Spina would have been part of the opposition as a member of the Conservatives, who are the main rivals of the governing Liberals. One can actually shudder at the thought of Spina representing the Sault as a member of the opposition and a voice from the outside.
Imagine Trudeau, as the Liberal Prime Minister, giving much, if anything, over the next four years to the Sault with a Conservative member of parliament? Would Trudeau even know who Spina is let alone care who he is?
To be sure, the Sault has been fortunate to have a member of parliament sit in the House of Commons as part of the ruling government since 2011.
Before Sheehan was first elected with Trudeau and the governing Liberals in 2015, Conservative Bryan Hayes was the Sault’s MP under then Prime Minister Stephen Harper. And as the Sault seemingly benefited when Hayes was our MP as part of the governing Conservatives, it has continued to be looked upon favourably by Trudeau and the Liberals with Sheehan sitting in a red seat in the House of Commons.
Prior to Hayes, Tony Martin was the Sault’s MP from 2004 to 2011 as a member of the New Democratic Party. But ever since Hayes finally unseated the relentless Martin in 2011, the NDP has been a distant third place finisher locally with three separate candidates, namely Skip Morrison, Sara McCleary and Marie Morin-Strom. Of the three, it was McCleary who came closest to the first place finisher in terms of how many votes separated them.
At any rate, it could be argued that the resilient Martin finally lost his federal NDP seat after seven years because Sault voters grew tired of having an MP who was not part of the governing party.
Despite Sheehan via Trudeau having poured hundreds of millions of dollars into the Sault Ste. Marie economy over the past several months that included major cash to Algoma Steel projects, close to 15,000 local residents opted to vote for Spina.
Which brings us to say that the Sault would have again been on the outside looking in and in an unenviable situation had Spina of the Conservatives been able to outlast Sheehan of the governing Liberals at the recent federal election.
One can only imagine the deaf ears that Prime Minister Trudeau and the governing Liberals would be turning on the Sault if we had politically blundered in electing Spina of the rival Conservatives as our MP.
Lucky for us, we returned an MP in Sheehan who can actually get an audience with the Prime Minister and get things done for the Sault.