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VIDEO: Jaime Battiste becomes first Mi’kmaw MP after winning riding of Sydney-Victoria

Liberal Jaime Battiste speaks to reporters after being declared the winner in the riding of Sydney-Victoria in Monday’s federal election. Battiste received 12,427 votes, while Conservative Eddie Orrell captured 11,078 votes.
Liberal Jaime Battiste speaks to reporters after being declared the winner in the riding of Sydney-Victoria in Monday’s federal election. Battiste received 12,427 votes, while Conservative Eddie Orrell captured 11,078 votes. - Jeremy Fraser
MEMBERTOU, N.S. —

Jaime Battiste stood in the middle of a room at the Membertou Trade and Convention Centre watching the federal election, patiently waiting results to come in from his riding of Sydney-Victoria.

With family, friends, supporters and reporters gathered around, Battiste, the Liberal candidate, remained calm as somebody in the background yelled updated poll numbers.

As the final polls were reporting, Battiste only moved after receiving a phone call from Conservative candidate Eddie Orrell, congratulating him on the victory – although Battiste was still waiting to officially be declared the winner.

Finally, the moment came when Battiste was confirmed the winner of the riding, much to the pleasure of supporters chanting his name in the background as he hugged family members.

Battiste captured the riding of Sydney-Victoria in a tight race with Orrell, who made the jump from provincial politics to run in the race.

The Eskasoni First Nation resident received 12,427 votes, while Orrell picked up 11,078 votes during Monday’s federal election.

Meanwhile, NDP candidate Jodi McDavid picked up 8,079 votes, followed by Independent Archie MacKinnon with 5,596 votes, and Green candidate Lois Foster with 2,214.

Independent Kenzie MacNeil claimed 477 votes, while Randy Joy of the Veterans Coalition Party of Canada finished in seventh place with 252 votes.

Vote totals were not final as of 3 a.m. with 195 of 196 polls reporting.

Not only did Battiste win the riding, he also made history becoming the first Mi’kmaw MP in Canada.

“It’s still sinking in,” said Battiste. “My goal when I got into this was not to win, but it was to improve Cape Breton and there’s a lot of things we need to do.”

“I think it’s all about collaboration, we saw today some of the beautiful things about reconciliation – we saw people from Eskasoni, Membertou, North Sydney, New Waterford, Sydney and all across Cape Breton, they were here and to me it’s all about unity.”

Battiste, an author and law graduate, recognized some of the issues facing Cape Breton at the current time including health care and the environment.

“Those were the things that when I looked at my son and told him I was going to run, I wanted to make this Cape Breton better and it’s all about future generations and the next generations,” said Battiste.

“The biggest thing is working with people and that’s why I’m here talking about unity and working with people in the riding of Sydney-Victoria to make sure that we can do this together.”

During the campaign, Battiste was criticized for offensive social media posts he made in the past, however, he apologized for those.

“All I can do is apologize and move forward from those old tweets,” said Battiste. “I’ve always been a person who believes in diversity and who believes in equal rights.”

Orrell told the Cape Breton Post his team put in a lot of hard work over the 40-day campaign, which included knocking on 20,000 doors in the riding.

“We ran a campaign that wasn’t good enough, the people have spoken, democracy speaks, and they’ve elected a Liberal member here, so that’s where we sit right now,” said Orrell when reached by phone early Tuesday morning.

“It was back-and-forth the whole night and people sat on the edge of seats waiting for the next update, but unfortunately the last update was the one that killed us.”

Orrell stands by his decision to step down from provincial politics to run in the federal election.

“I didn’t take that decision lightly, but I thought I would be able to offer more to more people,” said Orrell. “I don’t regret the decision – everybody losses eventually and tonight was the night for me unfortunately.”

Despite not winning the election, independent candidate Archie MacKinnon had a smile on his face as his supporters gathered at the Emera Centre Northside in North Sydney.

“The independent movement started in the provincial by-election and I guess we’re building a little bit of momentum,” said MacKinnon. “It’s a movement that’s slowly growing on the island.”

Along with his smile, MacKinnon also showed some humour as he walked through his crowd of supporters.

“A couple of people came over and hugged me and were feeling sorry for me,” said Mackinnon. “I told them they don’t have to feel sorry for me, I’ve been a Toronto Maple Leafs fan all my life.”

As for Battiste, he considers the victory all about perseverance.

“This is for all the youth out there who doubted themselves (because of) where they’re from or what their background was,” said Battiste. “I learned as a boxer in the Sydney Boxing Club with Brad Ross, fight until it’s over and never stop until it’s over and that’s what we did.”

Sydney-Victoria has been a Liberal riding since 2000 with Mark Eyking. Eyking announced earlier this year he wouldn’t be running in the federal election.

VOTES (196/196 polls reported)
- Jaime Battiste – Liberal – 12,536 (30.9 per cent)
- Eddie Orrell – Conservative – 11,228 (27.7 per cent)
- Jodi McDavid – NDP – 8,150 (20.1 per cent)
- Archie MacKinnon – Independent – 5,679 (14.0 per cent)
- Lois Foster – Green – 2,249 (5.5 per cent)
- Kenzie MacNeil – Independent – 480 (1.2 per cent)
- Randy Joy – Veterans Coalition Party of Canada – 254 (0.6 per cent)
Note: Results as of 3 a.m. Tuesday

FULL ELECTION RESULTS


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