Rodgers says Carleton Liberals have built a grass roots movement
By Jeff Morris
Just as it was in 2015, election night was bittersweet for Chris Rodgers.
The Carleton Liberal candidate received 25,934 votes – 22 votes more than he received in 2015 – but he fell short of unseating incumbent Conservative Pierre Poilievre and his 31,637 votes.
However, he and his team were in good spirits on election night as they celebrated their party’s victory.
“We won the election, which is fantastic,” Rodgers said. “We showed that you can’t win the election if you don’t have a serious plan to tackle climate change and protect the environment.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau paid multiple visits to Carleton to campaign with Rodgers and his team, as they were looking at taking the riding from Poilievre’s grasp and give the Liberals a clean sweep in Ottawa. Despite the strong campaign and the strong support shown locally, Rodgers fell short of becoming the first Liberal to take the riding since David Pratt won the Nepean-Carleton seat in the 2000 election.
“We had an amazing team, we were better organized, we had more volunteers, and sometimes you do everything right and it just doesn’t work out,” Rodgers said in a positive tone.
Rodgers said that while door-knocking during the campaign, people were looking for a strong local voice.
“They were looking for someone to actually talk about this riding, to talk about infrastructure, and to talk about community-level projects – a pool in Riverside South, someone to champion light rail in Stittsville, and better internet service in the rural areas. They’re bread and butter issues. They don’t get people’s blood boiling like some issues do, but that’s what our quality of life depends on, that’s what our local economy depends on, and they felt like they haven’t had anyone address those issues in a long time.”
At a personal level, there were some special moments that will stay with Rodgers from the 2019 campaign, including a huge rally at his campaign office in Canada when the Prime Minister came to Manotick to address Carleton Liberals.
“We had so much support from the national party,” Rodgers said. “But the biggest thing for me is still the friendships I’ve made with the local volunteers. We have local volunteers in every corner of this riding – people who had never been involved in politics before, people who had that spark re-ignited. We just built some incredible relationships. Friendships really are the best thing.”
Rodgers, who took a leave from being a teacher at South Carleton High School to run in the election, said he is not sure what is next for him.
“I want to spend some time with my family,” he said. “I don’t think you’ve seen the last of me in politics, but I don’t know exactly what that will be. I care too much about this community and I care too much about these issues to walk away. But it’s not about me. It’s about caring about your neighbour and building a stronger community.”
Rodgers said he is happy with what he and his campaign team have accomplished in the last two elections.
“We haven’t just run two good electoral campaigns,” Rodgers said. “We have built up a real grass roots movement right here in this community. Moving forward, whatever happens, whoever is leading the movement, is going to be that much better off in any future election.”