NDP candidate Rachel Blaney retained her North Island-Powell River seat in Monday’s federal election defeating second place finisher Conservative candidate Shelley Downey.
Blaney says she is humbled by the support she’s received from North Island-Powell River constituents in winning her second term.
“I’m just really, really grateful and very humbled to be allowed to do this work,” she said. “It’s a great honour.”
Blaney received 23,481 votes, accounting for 37.8 per cent of all votes cast, and more than 3,000 clear of runner-up Conservative Shelley Downey (20,131 votes; 32.4 per cent).
Blaney arrived at the Campbell River Courtenay & District Labour Council hall, her camp’s Campbell River headquarters for election night, with her arms raised in celebration. She was greeted by cheers from her supporters.
Blaney said some of her top priorities in Parliament will be affordable housing, building a sustainable future and continuing some of the projects for the riding that have already been approved pre-election.
After mingling with her supporters, she caught a party bus to Comox to meet with more voluinteers and supporters at the Church Street Brewing Company.
Downey said that while she is disappointed in the final results, she’s proud of her team and the campaign they ran.
“We ran an excellent campaign,” she says, still surrounded by supporters at her election night party at 50 Parallel Tap & Grill in Campbell River. “We knocked on a lot of doors and we had a good response. We had a great group of volunteers who spent a lot of hours on the campaign and you can’t ask for more than that.”
Downey says she had high hopes for her campaign, based on what she was hearing from voters.
“Right at the get-go we were hearing about affordability, and then in the latter part (of the campaign) it kind of shifted to having jobs, so I’m quite surprised at the results,” she says. “We have a lot of people here whose jobs are dependant on the resource sector, and if we’re going to shut down our resources – such as aquaculture – and mess around with our fisheries like they did this past summer with the chinook fisheries, not support the oil and gas sector, what’s going to be left?”
The Greens’ Mark de Bruijn, who came in third in the riding, with 8,899 votes (14.3 per cent), said the results proved bittersweet.
Compared to four years ago, the party’s popular vote nearly doubled in the riding.
“All things considered, I’m very fine,” he said, shortly after speaking to his supporters at his post-campaign party. “It’s quite a change and we are very happy with that.”
De Bruijn said the experience is something he will cherish for years to come.
“This has been a very, very uplifting experience for everybody involved – the mood here [at his post-campaign party] is very high and positive, because it has been an amazing experience. We ran a very solid campaign compared with anything we had done before, and we kept it very clean. We always took the high road.
“I’m extremely pleased and proud of what we have done, but I did think we would do better – I think we all did. I think this riding as a whole is just not quite ready to take that really courageous step toward something that is unknown and really out of the box.”
As for his immediate future, de Bruijn has one plan.
“The first thing we are going to do, my partner Carol and I, we are going to plant our garlic, because we have had no time to garden at all. So that is number-one. After that, I don’t know.”
Peter Schwarzhoff, the Liberal candidate, said he had no assumptions for the election results. He finished fourth in the riding, with 8,151 votes (13.1 per cent).
Watching the results come in Monday night, he said he was feeling “upbeat and good about the campaign.
“I’m satisfied with things,” Schwarzhoff said. “I ran a positive campaign and looking at the numbers (nationally) with the Liberals, NDP and the Greens, it clearly shows we’ve got a progressive agenda with supportive allies.”
Schwarzhoff, who made his second run for federal office for the Liberals, noted while climate change was a hot topic on the campaign trail, affordability was also on the minds of many voters within the riding.
“It’s an important mandate and (voters) want bolder actions, but they may not be sure they know what’s required. (A Liberal government) is working for answers. Things that got me into polices such as environmental protection and climate change are on the agenda,” Schwarzhoff said.
Brian Rundle of the People’s Party of Canada said he was surprised to see party leader Maxime Bernier lost his own seat – the only one the PPC had – in the Beauce, Que. riding, to Conservative Richard Lehoux.
“It‘s kind of sad – I don’t know what to say. It’s tragic for Max. I think the whole thing is kind of unexpected,” Rundle said.
He still believes strongly in the future of the People’s Party of Canada, though.
“We do have, in many ways, the only real choice to a government that has a global agenda. We believe we offer something very different and I think there is a place in [Canada] for us to have a say, and from my experience, there are a lot of people who agree with our vision.”
Rundle finished with 1,066 votes, for 1.7 per cent of the popular vote.
Independent Glen Staples (350 votes; 0.6 per cent) and Marxist-Leninist candidate Carla Neal (48 votes; 0.1 per cent) rounded out the North Island-Powell River results.
– with files from Erin Haluschak, Mike Davies, Terry Farrell, Alistair Taylor