DELTA — The new all-Delta riding belongs to Liberal candidate Carla Qualtrough, who is legally blind but is not considered the first Canadian MP with such a disability.
Visually impaired since birth, Qualtrough swam for Canada at the Seoul 1988 and Barcelona 1992 Paralympic Games, winning three medals.
In an interview Monday, Qualtrough couldn’t say for sure whether she is set to become Canada’s first legally blind Member of Parliament.
In fact, that designation is said to belong to J. Trevor Morgan, a Progressive Conservative who represented the riding of St. Catherines in the early 1970s.
“(Blindness) really presents its own challenges and unique perspective, but I think I’m a pretty good self-advocate so I’m well prepared for this task,” Qualtrough told the Now.
A lawyer who lives in Ladner, she will be part of a Liberal majority government in Ottawa.
“I wouldn’t say I’m surprised (by the election results) but I’m definitely delighted,” she said. “We knew this could happen and we’re just thrilled that it did.”
Qualtrough, a first-time politician, earned nearly half, or 49.3 per cent, of all votes in the Delta riding, which was part of the Newton-North Delta riding won by the NDP’s Jinny Sims in 2011. For the 2015 federal election, Delta become one, as Tsawwassen and Ladner broke away from its former Richmond connections.
Kerry-Lynne Findlay, the Conservative candidate in Delta, has been the MP of the Delta-Richmond East riding since 2011.
Findlay, also a lawyer, earned 32.7 per cent of votes in the riding, well ahead of the NDP’s Jeremy Leveque (14.9 per cent) and Green Party candidate Anthony Edward Devellano (3.2 per cent).
Voter turnout in Delta was 55,783, or 75.11 per cent of the riding’s 74,267 registered electors.
Qualtrough’s legal work involves human rights, inclusion and sports.
She and her husband, Eron Main, have four children.
The MP-elect is now preparing for the job of flying back and forth to Ottawa from Canada’s southwest corner.
“I’m not sure it will be radical changes,” Qualtrough said, “but we have four children and two of which are quite young, they’re three and five, and so we’re going to have to manage that part as a family. I am lucky enough to have the full support of my family, and my mom also lives with us. So between her and my husband, who has the flexibility of working out of the home, the three of us have a pretty good plan of how this is going to work.”
Qualtrough, who grew up in Langley, previously spent time working for a pair of MPs in Ottawa.
“That’s what really sparked my interest in running (for office) at some point in my life, and it just happened that at this time, the stars aligned and I was given the opportunity to do so, and I am thrilled,” she said.
“I think it’s a very noble pursuit and I’m honoured to have been given this opportunity.
“There’s a lot of wrongs we (Liberals) have promised to right, and now we have to get to work.”