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After an eventful campaign period, Filomena Tassi was elected as the Member of Parliament representing the area around and including McMaster University.
With a turnout of over 60,000 voters in the newly created Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas riding, Tassi is part of a returning wave of support for the Liberal Party, a party that has been conspicuously absent in representing Hamilton at the federal level for the past nine years.
The Liberal Party achieved a historic victory this October, reaching a parliamentary majority with 184 out of 338 seats, ousting the previous Conservative majority government. The Liberals now represent two of the five Hamilton ridings, with Tassi in the HWAD riding and Bob Bratina, former mayor of Hamilton, representing the Hamilton East-Stoney Creek riding.
Since 2006, Conservative MP David Sweet had represented McMaster University in the now defunct Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale district. With Sweet running for and winning the new Flamborough-Glanbrook district, the battle amongst candidates in the HWAD riding was expected to be far more open without an incumbent involved in the race.
Despite this, Tassi won with 29,698 votes, a comfortable margin of nearly 10,000 votes over her closest competition, Conservative candidate Vincent Samuel.
In an election defined by voters desperate for change, it seemed apparent that strategic voting helped shape the outcome of the riding. However, it’s arguable that Tassi’s large margin of victory was also in part due to the criticism that NDP candidate Alex Johnstone faced over comments she made regarding the Auschwitz concentration camp. Although candidates declined to comment on the issue during the race, Johnstone’s absence from her campaign to visit the camp, as well as an absence from the All-Candidates debate hosted in McMaster’s student atrium, contributed to a fairly straightforward result that was expected to be much closer between all three parties.
With some of the Liberal Party’s key promises directed towards student tuition and the transition to the workforce, students can expect to see some direct benefits from Trudeau’s government. This includes a grace period for loan repayments until a graduate is earning a minimum income of $25,000, and the investment of $1.3 billion over three years in the creation of new co-op placements for students in science, technology, and business, as well as over 40,000 youth jobs.
Although it’s unclear how much students will be able to save by simply delaying their loan payments to the government, or what exactly Trudeau’s “youth jobs” will entail, Tassi emphasized the importance of students to the Liberal party’s plans in a previous conversation with The Silhouette.
“We’re just trying to bridge the gap from education to work,” said Tassi. “They’re saying the average student debt is $26,000; this is why we want to work with students to try and ensure that the cost of going to school is lowered, and that when they graduate they won’t have to repay [right away].”
Unfortunately, Tassi did not respond to The Silhouette’s request for an interview in time for the print issue.