With only a handful of polls reporting in Kootenay East Tuesday night, the B.C. election outcome was never really in doubt — unlike most of the rest of the province.
The riding was called for Tom Shypitka about a third of the way through counting — the B.C. Liberal candidate having amassed an early comfortable lead and a trend that showed no sign of wavering.
In the end, Shypitka took 57 per cent of the vote in Kootenay East, with the NDP’s Randal Macnair coming in second with 4,779 votes (30 per cent). Yvonne Prest of the Green Party got 1,814 votes (11 per cent) and Libertarian Keith Komar 385 votes (two per cent).
Macnair was disappointed, but philosophical, after the outcome was announced.
“It was obviously not the result we hoped for, but we had a really great group of people who worked really hard,” Macnair said in his Cranbrook office, with his team watching the nail-biting provincewide finish. “We knew it was an uphill battle here in Kootenay East, it’s been a Liberal stronghold for a decade and a half. And we didn’t crack that. But we did our best, put in a lot of time and we enjoyed ourselves.”
Macnair, a former mayor of Fernie, is no stranger to the political trail. He mentioned some of the personal highlights from the past five weeks of campaigning.
“Meeting people is always great,” he said. “Some of the best experiences of the campaign involved kids, and some of the interactions with young people who are excited about the political process, who have insights that we don’t really think about — mainly questions from the college and the high school that make you pause and think in a way that the typical questions at these forums don’t.
“The [all-candidates forums held around the riding] themselves were a highlight,” he added. “The dialogue between the four candidates was really positive and constructive, while holding each other to account. It’s the way politics should be, but unfortunately isn’t the way politics often happens in the Legislature. It would be nice to see it move in the direction of the tenor that we set around the forums in Kootenay East.”
Macnair said there is not a whole lot the Kootenay East NDP would have done differently. “It’s a matter of breaking through that Liberal barrier,” he said. “If you look at the numbers that’s really clear. Their numbers are down around 15 per cent from last time, as a result of our efforts, but the Liberals still have strong numbers across the province. So we did make some breakthrough there.”
Macnair wouldn’t comment on whether he running again, but he does intend to stay involved with the NDP.
“The executive we have here, and the people involved with the party are quality human beings. They care a lot about their community, and they work really hard, and it was a privilege and an honour to work with them.”