Interim Staff

Reform MP Sharon Hayes won’t forget the ordeal she went through to retain her Port Moody-Coquitlam (British Columbia) seat in the June 2 federal election.

In an election marked by Reform’s effort to wrestle Opposition party status away from the separation-bent Bloc Quebecois and by individual MPs need to overcome bigotry charges clumsily placed in Reform’s path, Hayes faced a much more personal struggle.

Hard-ball politics took a back seat when Hayes’ husband Doug, suffered a heart attack just days before the election call. The situation took a more ominous turn as experimental medication used to treat the heart attack triggered a brain haemorrhage and stroke.

Doug lapsed into a coma and for at least five days, Hayes wasn’t sure if she should prepare for an election victory or a funeral.

“I was on my way back to Vancouver within 45 minutes of getting the news,” Hayes told The Interim. But I couldn’t speak to Doug until he came out of the coma. Of course I was relieved when he recognized me right away.”

Hayes immediately consulted with close friends and campaign advisors to plan the next step. She decided to take time away from active campaigning to spend time with her husband. “I was able to let my assistants take care of most of the campaigning until the final week of the election,” she said. “I managed to attend the all-candidates’ meetings, but there was no opportunity for the door-to-door campaigning. All along though, I felt we had a good chance or re-election.”

Hayes confidence was well placed. Despite the hardships, she went on to a second victory in Port Moody, outpolling her nearest rival by 8,000 votes.

More than the re-election however, Hayes is encouraged by Doug’s initial progress. He has lost some mobility and peripheral vision, but with extensive physical and cognitive therapy, the outlook is relatively positive.

Hayes is anticipating some lively debate when Parliament reconvenes. Although she is disappointed that Reform didn’t achieve its much-sought after breakthrough in Ontario, she is relieved the party will have a better platform to put forward pro-life, pro-family issues.

She said efforts to portray Reform as divisive took its toll in eastern Canada.

“The other parties and the media played on people’s insecurities to attack Reform,” she said.

“We are happy we made gains in regions of the country where our policies are best understood.”