“It was a very different campaign.” That’s how Marc Serré describes his successful re-election bid as MP for the Nickel Belt riding, and that is an understatement. Serré acknowledges that there was a “a negative tone”, especially in the beginning of the campaign when many were telling him there was no need for an election, and at the end after a barrage of attacks against his party leader Justin Trudeau and even himself.
In fact, Serré was targeted several times during the 36-day campaign. Several signs were defaced, a woman was arrested after physically charging at him both inside and outside his campaign office, and he even received threats and unwanted visits to his home, prompting him to have to install a new alarm system and cameras.
“It was hard in that regard,” he admits, also expressing worry that this type of behaviour could detract people from entering politics, especially women. He even took time out of campaigning to denounce such actions. “I was clear that those types of tactics are not acceptable. We are in Canada! (…) Debate is good, the exchange of ideas is good, but this crossed a line. Violence is never acceptable.”
Serré likened the vitriolic tone and divisive politics to that seen in the United States, but says that Canadians by and large reject this approach and that was seen in the election results, with a majority voting for a progressive agenda and keeping agitators like the PPC party in the fringe. He believes the majority of people are satisfied, but this is a more silent majority than the very loud detractors.
“I have faith in people,” Serré states, adding that the unfortunate incidents were always followed by a strong show of support by Nickel Belt residents. “Some people called me afterward and said “we support you and we want a sign on our lawn.” It was their way of saying they wouldn’t stand for that either.”
He also points to the strong team he had by his side and his track record over the past six years. “I had a strong camp and a good plan. What happens at the national level, I don’t have much control over, but here locally… I visited the riding from one end to the other. (…) Of course, I’m always nervous, but I felt good about the campaign, knowing that if I lost it would not be because of the work done locally.” He is also proud that his camp kept the tone civil even when faced with the opposite. “I’ve always done positive campaigning. It’s not about criticizing my opponents.”
Serré is the first to admit that there are many things left to do, but says he’s ready to roll up his sleeves and get to it. Priorities for his third mandate include more housing, access to Internet in all rural communities, seniors’ services and quality of life, more dollars for Northern infrastructure, mining development and jobs… the list goes on.