Election 2008: No ‘what ifs’ for Martha Hall Findlay

After winning the Willowdale riding in the federal election Tuesday night, Liberal incumbent Martha Hall Findlay refused to criticize her leader for the party’s poor national showing.

Findlay, 49, defeated Conservative candidate Jake Karns, 28, by over 7,000 votes with 235 at 253 polls reporting. Two years ago, Findlay was a candidate for the leadership of the Liberal party, but lost out to Stephane Dion. She now serves as the party’s associate finance critic.

Reporters at Findlay’s rally asked if she might have led the party differently than the current leader.

“You can’t do the ‘what ifs,'” Findlay said. “He’s done so well in the last few weeks – talk about a scrapper.”

During her celebration at The Black Sheep Pub on 4901 Yonge St., Findlay stressed the need for reform in the immigration system.

“(The immigration process) has been a huge concern for new Canadians,” Findlay said. “(There’s) long overdue reform needed.”

Findlay admitted that immigration policies take importance – especially in her riding. In 2006, Statistics Canada reported that visible minorities made up about 60 per cent of Willowdale’s population.

“We want to revise the immigration points system,” she said, “but also (introduce) some really innovative things like a five-year renewable, multiple-entry visitor’s visa.”

The visa would make it easier for people abroad to visit their families in Canada more frequently.

However, the influx of new Canadians in Willowdale also related to the other big issue in her riding: congestion.

She acknowledged the growth of condominium homes in Willowdale, which has consequently put more cars on the road.

“We’ll really push (the Conservatives) on infrastructure and public transit for all the reasons: congestion, but also environmental,” she said.

Over at the Royal Canadian Legion #66 at 6 Spring Garden Ave., defeated Conservative Jake Karns congratulated Findlay.

“I think Martha Hall Findlay will do a great job for Willowdale,” Karns said, “but we are watching her closely.”

Findlay said she will ensure the majority has a voice.

“Not being in government means my job will be to hold the Conservatives accountable,” Findlay said, “and that the mandate is not to ignore the majority of Canadians.”