Former Ottawa-Orléans MP Marc Godbout will get a chance to win back the seat he lost in the last federal election after beating out four other candidates for the Liberal nomination Sunday night.
Campaigning on a promise to wrestle the riding back from Conservative MP Royal Galipeau, Godbout led through four tallies before finally getting the majority he needed to win the nomination.
More than 1,200 members cast ballots during the nomination process which used the preferential system requiring each voting member to indicate their first through fifth choice.
After each tally the person with the least amount of first place votes is dropped off the list. The second place votes of the person's supporters are then added to the remaining four candidates and a new tally is made. The process continues until a candidate gets a majority of the ballots cast.
According to various sources, Godbout had about 42 percent of the first place votes after the first tally. His number then slowly grew through the second and third tallies until the fourth tally put him over the top. Beacon Hill Cyrville Coun. Michel Bellemare also survived the first three tallies, but his moment stalled on the final count.
The surprise candidate of the day was software engineer Rachel Décoste. The political neophyte was in second place after the first tally with the second highest number of first place votes due mainly to the fact that she had a turnout rate of close to 75 per cent. Bellemare was slightly behind in third place.
It wasn't until the second tally that Bellemare moved ahead of Décoste when received a greater share of the second place votes cast by the supporters of the two trailing candidates Marc Thibault and Gar Knutson.
After Décoste was dropped off the list in the third tally, nearly 50 per cent of her supporters had selected Godbout as their second choice giving the former MP the support he needed to put him over the top.
When the final result was announced an ecstatic Godbout saluted a crowd of about 80 supporters who had returned to Garneau High School to find out the outcome of the vote firsthand.
Earlier in the day, Godbout launched several salvos at Galipeau and the ruling Conservative government during his nomination speech.
"My friends this community has been badly bruised by our MP and his government. As a community we have suffered deeply by Royal Galipeau's actions, or should I say, non-action," said Galipeau before listing a number of areas where he felt Galipeau has failed the riding.
During the nomination speeches all five of the candidates took a shot at Galipeau's statement that if the residents of Ottawa-Orléans want to bring federal jobs to the riding they should vote Liberal.
After accepting the nomination, Godbout said he was confident of winning the riding back from his Conservative rival whenever the next federal election is called.
"Every day, people come up to me and say, 'Mr. Godbout hang on. We parked our vote in the last election. We never thought Galipeau would win. We didn't vote last time, but this time we're going to vote'," said Godbout. "The people are mad and they're frustrated and they can't wait to fix it."
In contrast to Godbout's buoyant mood, a disappointed Bellemare said his biggest obstacle in trying to win the nomination was time.
"I came into this process very late which made recruiting members very difficult, especially when they cut off the memberships two weeks ago and called an early nomination meeting," said Bellemare.
As recently as last Monday there was talk that the nomination meeting was going to be held the weekend of May 5 and 6. Instead the meeting was called for Sunday. Asked if the extra week would have made any difference in trying to convince members to select himself as their second choice, he said it would have.
"We were recruiting hundreds of people right up until this morning. Certainly I think it would have made a difference," said Bellemare.
As for the surprise third place candidate Rachel Décoste, she was both overwhelmed at the success of her grassroots campaign and immensely proud as well.
"When I was gathering support I noticed there was a thirst for a new face with new ideas," said Décoste who garnered a tremendous amount of support from the east end's ethnic community.
With the nomination process now over, Décoste says she plans to do whatever she can to return Godbout to the House of Commons.
(This story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local business partners.)
By Fred Sherwin