The NDP’s Doug Routley had plenty to celebrate on Tuesday night as he was elected for a fourth consecutive term in the riding of Nanaimo-North Cowichan on what was also his 56th birthday.
Leading from the outset and increasing the margin of victory throughout the evening, Routley captured 46.71 per cent (10,522) of the popular vote compared to the Liberal’s Alana DeLong with 28.47 per cent (6,696) and the Green Party’s Lia Versaevel following close behind at 23.74 per cent (5,583) . Independent candidate P. Anna Paddon finished a distant fourth at 1.09 per cent (207).
“It’s really inspiring to see that our message resonates with people,” Routley told cheering supporters who welcomed him to Ladysmith’s Diamond Hall shortly after 10 p.m.
“I think the ideas of equity and social justice, these are not worn out ideas, they’re underused ideas. It’s up to us to pioneer that and to keep fighting for these values that brought us all here together.”
Routley was first elected as an MLA in 2005 and while the riding boundaries have been redrawn over the years his support hasn’t wavered.
He said this campaign was different and there’s plenty of work ahead to unite the province in the coming term.
“There’s a really big difference of people feeling as though they’ve been left out in their own province,” Routley said.
“What I have noticed and really enjoyed about this campaign was so many families and young people getting engaged….we had a lot of fun and people were so captured by it and I think it points to the new direction we need to take with politics.”
Surrounded by supporters at her campaign office in Ladysmith, Liberal candidate Alana DeLong said the she felt she ran a good campaign.
“It’s been a fantastic campaign. Really fantastic,” she said. “I’ve never seen a team really come together like it has here. It’s been quite a thrill to watch really.”
A former four-term Alberta MLA representing the Calgary-Bow riding, DeLong said she’s learned lots , especially being a newcomer to Vancouver Island.
“I was used to being able to knock on every door, but here you’ve got pockets where you can knock on doors and then it is very spread out,” she said.
Meanwhile, the Green’s Lia Versaevel had a strong showing capturing just over 2,000 more votes than the party’s previous candidate in 2013.
“The number of people that I’ve spoken to who have supported Greens this time are committed. They didn’t vote out of fear, they voted out of hope and they won’t lose that hope. We are on a trajectory to make a lot of inroads in the next few years,” she said.
Now for the first time in Routley’s lifetime a minority government will lead British Columbia.
“No matter what the outcome was to be tonight I would be saying this and that is thank you to the constituents for the honour and privilege of representing them all these years.”
– With files from Nicholas Pescod, Tamara Cunningham