Monday’s election was nothing short of historic, both locally and federally.
From a local perspective, it’s the first time in 22 years that an NDP candidate will be representing the Kootenay-Columbia region, wresting control from the Conservatives (and the former Reform Party), which had held various iterations of the riding since 1993.
According to preliminary results from Elections Canada, Wayne Stetski, running for the NDP, won by a razor-thin margin of 285 votes over Conservative incumbent David Wilks.
If the numbers stand, Stetski will have captured 23,529 votes out of 63,203 ballots cast by registered electors—good for 37.2 per cent of the vote.
According to Elections Canada rules, the margin is not thin enough to warrant a judicial recount, which would require the two closest candidates to be closer than one one-thousandth of total votes cast.
From here on in, it’s important to acknowledge a few things.
First, congratulations to all the candidates—Stetski, Wilks, Don Johnston and Bill Green—for having the courage to put their names forward to run. That is no easy task.
To Stetski, congratulations on running a successful campaign to become the Member of Parliament-elect for the Kootenay-Columbia riding and all the best moving forward.
To Wilks, thank you for your years of service to Kootenay-Columbia residents and for representing the riding’s interests in Ottawa as our Member of Parliament for the last four years.
Though preliminary results are in, the validation won’t be confirmed till next week, which will show how Kootenay-Columbia residents voted in communities/sub-regions across the riding.
From a national perspective, nobody predicted the red tide that swept across the country, as Stephen Harper’s Conservatives lost their majority and are relegated to the Official Opposition for the first time since 2006.
The Liberals won 184 seats, the Conservatives won 99, the NDP won 44, the Bloc Quebecois won 10 and the Green Party won a single seat.
Polling, which seems to be coming more and more obsolete, had the NDP in the lead at the start of the campaign, followed by the Conservatives, followed by the Liberals.
So much for relying on that data.
Still, no poll called for a Liberal majority led by Justin Trudeau, which is what the country will have for at least the next four years, or until another election is called.
For the Conservatives, it was a disastrous election, as the party, which had previously governed with two minorities in the House of Commons, finally received their wish for a majority in 2011 in the fallout from the Great Recession.
However, they never did anything substantiative with it.
From a national perspective, Harper’s re-election strategy seemed to consist of belittling personal attacks on Trudeau—”nice hair, though”—and NDP leader Tom Mulcair.
Harper attempted to appeal to Islamophobes by raising the wedge issue of the the niqab, which obviously did not resonate with Canadians, and criticized the Liberal fiscal plan of going into deficit, despite running seven deficits during his nine years in government, which smacked of hypocrisy.
Elections are a time of hope, where people feel they can have a direct say in the future of their country. Instead of attacking fellow party leaders, Harper should’ve framed his campaign on why he deserved to be re-elected.
What was the Conservative vision for the future? What would four more years of a Conservative government look like for Canadians?
Instead of Harper defending his economic record and offering a vision of the future, voters got nothing but cheesy attack ads, which isn’t good enough to deserve another term.
Following his concession speech, a press release announced his intention to fall on his sword and resign as party leader, which is the right thing to do because the Conservatives are sorely in need of some new blood and fresh ideas.
Federally, the NDP, quite frankly, were crushed. The Orange Wave of 2011 massively receded mostly due to Liberal gains in Quebec. Despite the result, Tom Mulcair has pledged to stay on as party leader.
Finally, if there’s one thing that was extremely disappointing about the election, it was the fact that the big media consortiums were already calling for a Liberal government before polls even closed in B.C.
It’s disconcerting that voters in the West can know what the likely outcome is before they’ve even cast a ballot.
There used to be a blackout law within the Elections Act, however, the Conservatives lifted the ban in 2011 in response to the rise of social media, as results were being distributed on site such as Facebook and Twitter.
Social media has let the cat out of the bag, so to speak, but it’ll be tough to legislate a solution to prevent eastern results from reaching a B.C. audience.
However, B.C. was the potential kingmaker for a Liberal majority government which needed 170 seats. With the B.C. polls closing the latest, the Grits picked up 17 seats in the province—a gain from only two in the 2011 election.
Whether that translates into Real Change will be up for debate.