O'Regan: I want to earn it

     With the end to the longest election in modern Canadian history finally drawing to a close, Liberal candidate Seamus O’Regan says it's a nice feeling being in a close race, but he's relieved that it's coming to a head.
     "It's been a long, long road," he said. "I'm just happy it's coming to fruition. And to be honest I'm also happy with the way Justin's been doing, so that helps."
     Justin, is of course, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, who, if the national opinion polls are correct, stands a good chance Monday night of becoming Canada’s next Prime Minister. The Liberals are a half a horse length ahead of the Conservatives in a dramatic race to the finish as the NDP slips farther behind. But how the seat count will turn out is still beyond anybody’s guess.
     If the Liberal momentum continues nationally, it may be enough to push O’Regan over the finish line in St. John’s South – Mount Pearl ahead of his opponent, NDP incumbent Ryan Cleary. The self-styled “Fighting Newfoundlander” was seen as having the lead going into the contest. But over the past few weeks, O’Regan has narrowed it. Website threehundredeight.com, which aggregates polling results by ridings across the country, pegged the breakdown on Tuesday as O’Regan leading with 50.7 per cent of the vote in St. John’s South – Mount Pearl compared to Cleary at 34.6 per cent.
     O'Regan said he knew when he got into the race some people would question it after having been away for some years working on Canada AM.
     "I knew there would be a bit of that, but it wasn't going to last, because I'm from here and I know what people are like,” O’Regan said. “They want to see you work. And that's been my object from the beginning - lay low and work it, just work it, work hard. And I've been at that for months... If I've got any bump in the polls right now it's because of our on the ground campaign and that's been deliberate. I've laid low, I haven't done any national talk shows or anything like that, just laid low and worked it door to door. So if we're doing well, I attribute a lot of it to the volunteers around me. The people who I've surrounded myself with were amazing; day in and day out they would show up and go to the doors with me and talk to people and listen to people. It sounds hokey, but you don't really appreciate it until your here. It's amazing to me how many people will volunteer their time and what a difference that makes."
     O'Regan said he has no idea what his opponent’s campaign team is like. His own plan is to keep doing what the Liberal team has been doing. "We've got a great group of people, a smooth operation... And I want to keep that going,” O’Regan said. “So nothing changes… We've got a lot more people now who want to come on board and I'm happy about that. But we have a core group of people who have been amazing and their ability to just knock on somebody's door and talk to them about what's going on amazes me and inspires me."
     O'Regan acknowledged that both nationally and locally, candidate debates have had an impact in this campaign. "I think the question Justin has heard, that he's just not ready, was answered after five debates," O'Regan argued. "Locally, I made a point of making a very spirited argument. As someone who considers himself a progressive citizen, I was just sick of hearing the NDP putting out promises that they can't keep. I think it's a very cynical campaign and I had no problems speaking out against it. I said it again and again and again, every time I heard a platitude or a promise, 'There's an asterisk at the end of it.'"
     O'Regan is referring to the spending plan the NDP released several weeks ago. Some of the items contained asterisks indicating the commitments were contingent on the next government meeting certain financial targets. The NDP is promising to operate government without running a deficit. By contrast, the Liberals have said they will incur deficits in the first three years of a mandate.
     "I appreciate how honest our campaign has been," O’Regan said. "We've costed it, we'll bear the brunt of it, we're talking about borrowing money, and I make no excuses about it and I believe in it, because if you look at the facts and the economics it makes sense... I have no problem spouting it and being proud of it."
     O'Regan said neither himself nor his partner Steve Doss have looked beyond October 19. "His career is going gangbusters. He's running Raymond's and The Merchant Tavern and I'm very proud of him. As for me, I hope to win. If I don't, I'll deal with that, but I'm in it to win it and I have been from the beginning.”
     If he does win, O'Regan said his priority will be to represent the people of St. John's South - Mount Pearl. "After months and months of knocking on doors, I can say that with full heart," he said. "That's not a cynical or staid response. I represent these people and I will represent them in Ottawa. I am not in this to take talking points from Ottawa and to bring them back here. I swear to God, I'll leave it if it ever comes down to it, but it won't. One thing I know about Justin, and I've known him for a long time, he attracts strong people because he is a strong person himself and he wants people who will represent their ridings and I'll represent this riding."
     O'Regan said the door knocking has really opened his eyes. "When you're running to be a Member of Parliament, you see all aspects of life and all people," he explained. "People are opening their doors to you, people you don't know. And that has a huge effect on you, big time. It's certainly had a big effect on me. So when I say I'm representing people here, I mean it, I mean everybody… I hope people respect that. I want to win their vote, but I also want to earn it, and I've been working on that every day."

Posted on October 14, 2015 .