Gary Vidal was on pins and needles throughout election night. The Conservative candidate knew the riding of Desnethé-Missinippi-Churchill River was one of the closest in Canada in 2015, so he had to wait until the late hours to feel comfortable.
“It was just a lot of nervousness to be honest with you,” he said the day after the election.
“I spent the evening with my close team here and we had just lots of nervous anticipation for the results to kind of get close to finalized.”
Vidal was in a battle with Liberal candidate Tammy Cook-Searson and NDP incumbent Georgina Jolibois.
“It's kind of a roller coaster of emotion,” Vidal said of election night.
“I didn't know what to expect, but that's what I experienced… It was a combination of ‘We did the right thing’, but there was still a good sense of nervousness to go with it.”
As the first poll results rolled in, Vidal fell behind in the count, but comfortably won the riding in the end.
Vidal’s Conservative party came away with 121 seats, strengthening its status as the official opposition party in the House of Commons.
“In the moment, you're kind of probably a little bit more focused on your own (results) because it’s pretty personal,” he said.
Vidal said his party should be proud of the gains they made.
“If you went back two, three years ago, nobody gave us a chance to be competitive in this election,” he said.
“I think, on the national level, we came a long ways beyond what people's expectations were. So although we're disappointed, I think if we actually look at the big picture, we should be pretty optimistic at how far we've come from 2015 and our journey will continue.”
Vidal ended up with over 10,000 votes, with Jolibois getting 7,500, and Cook-Searson reaching just under 7,000. Not all polls in the riding had reported as of press time.
“An election is an election, but once you're elected, your job is to represent everybody,” he said. “So I think we need to just be that voice for everybody.”
Vidal said he reached out to other first time winners to see what their next steps should be.
“I talked to another another candidate that won last night just like me, for the first time… and we looked at each other and were like, what do we do now?” he said, laughing.
“We honestly don't know what our next steps are. Somebody will tell us kind of what we do next, and we'll start to figure out the journey. I'm not sure anybody that's ever done this before, for the first time knows exactly what the week after looks like.”
Vidal thanked the team behind his election win, saying the challenge of campaigning in one of Canada’s biggest ridings took teamwork.
“I would say just how thankful I am for the incredible team of people and the support that we received throughout this riding during the campaign,” he said.
“It's humbling and it's overwhelming and I'm just so grateful for everybody that stepped up to help us on this journey.”
Looking ahead, Vidal is optimistic and eager to learn.
“We'll figure it out,” he said.
“If you think you have all the answers, you're probably lying to yourself. So you’ve got to figure it out.”