Ian Bingham with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in 2019. SUPPLIED

After second loss to incumbent MP Dean Allison, Ian Bingham is bowing out

Election day started in typical fashion for Niagara West Liberal candidate Ian Bingham.

“I woke up, I went to court in front of two different judges and then I went to the jail to see some of my clients,” the 31-year-old Grimsby defense lawyer said.

Because of the pandemic, the Lindsay native appeared virtually in a Hamilton courthouse and a Milton courthouse and then visited clients in person at the Barton Street jail in Hamilton.

“It was definitely a distraction because right now the jail is totally locked down and there are many security procedures. You are lucky to get past the front door,” he said.

Bingham didn’t need to vote on election day because he had cast his ballot in the advance polls the previous week. When his work day was over, he headed home to follow the election.

“I arrived here and luckily my lovely wife had set up everything so we were able to sit down and watch the proceedings.”

His wife, Abigail Bingham, served as his campaign manager, helps with his law practice, and is also is a substitute teacher at the elementary and secondary school level with the Niagara Catholic District School Board.

The Bingham campaign headquarters were on the front lawn of the couple’s Grimsby home. Lawn chairs were set up in front of a television screen under a tent. Some true Canadiana atmosphere was added by a small fire burning in a portable fire-pit.

“We are here with some of the core team, friends of the campaign and things are going well,” Bingham said that night.

Those in attendance were watching CBC’s coverage of the election and by 10:15, the CBC still hadn’t mentioned any results for Niagara West. There was pizza, drinks and candy at the ready when the Liberal scrutineers returned from the polling stations.

By 10:40 p.m., it was being reported that Conservative incumbent Dean Allison had once again captured the riding he had held since 2004.

“Congratulations to him and I want Dean to know that his seat is not secure the next time, and I think the Liberals will be climbing closer in this riding,” Bingham said, later that night.

He has decided that after two attempts he will not be the Liberal candidate in Niagara West whenever the next election is called.

“I want focus more on my career and my family.”

He believes the 2021 election will come to be viewed as very important in Canadian history.

“We may not realize it now but the fact that there is radicalized elements in this election is something we haven’t seen before,” he said. “The fact that there is public daycare [as an election promise] is something we haven’t seen before. And the fact that climate change has really started to bare its teeth, history will watch what happens tonight.”

Bingham’s journey on the campaign trail was marred by a trio of unfortunate incidents.

One of his volunteers sporting a Bingham sign on the side of her car had it rammed by a man wielding a shopping cart.

“The volunteer thought another car had hit her because of the impact of it. We tried to get the footage and it turned out the video camera wasn’t recording properly,” he said. “We filed it with the police but they couldn’t do too much.”

The second incident came during a Justin Trudeau rally at a steel plant in Welland. Someone made an aggressive move towards a car Bingham was travelling in and came within less than a foot of a volunteer sitting in the vehicle.

“It was fairly aggressive and very un-Canadian,” he said.

The final occurrence was a death threat he received on Facebook.

“It won’t be my first in life, I will tell you, but it didn’t happen [during the last election].”

Unfortunately for Bingham and the Liberals, the race in Niagara West turned out pretty close to what happened the last time, in 2019. Allison finished comfortably in first, Bingham finished in second about 8,000 votes shy of Allison, and the rest of the candidates split the remaining votes with no other candidate receiving more than 13 percent of the ballots cast.

Throughout the election campaign, Bingham went after Green and NDP voters telling them to vote Liberal because he was the only one that had a chance to unseat Allison, someone who he felt doesn’t represent the values of the majority of his electorate.

“I think it is fair to say that message was heard and people knew it before I started saying it,” Bingham said. “I think it is patently obvious. No matter what happens this election, if people remember that if we unite our values, we can achieve them and we can have a good future.”

That message is one Bingham stated over and over again at the debates and the NDP and Green candidate had heard enough by the end of the debates.

“They didn’t like it and they are not meant to. I am not trying to please them,” Bingham said. “I am trying to move the riding forward. My argument was by dividing the riding we were letting the riding slide backwards.”

He feels the Niagara West riding is changing because of the people flooding into Niagara and buying homes.

“I think there are thousands of new people and the big question I don’t have the answer to is if they even voted here,” he said. “I know the last election there were a lot of people I spoke to who weren’t registered. It is a great big wildcard.”