UPDATED: NDP’s Routley celebrates Nanaimo-North Cowichan re-election on birthday

Voters re-elected the NDP’s Doug Routley for a fourth consecutive term in Nanaimo-North Cowichan.

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. She said the the Nanaimo-North Cowichan riding’s spread out population was something she hadn’t expected when she entered the race.

“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. “I actually spent a lot more time on the phones than I normally would have because normally I would have been knocking on doors.”

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. Political colleague Sonia Furstenau was also successful in capturing the Cowichan Valley riding with 37.21 per cent of the popular vote as the Greens will now hold three seats in the legislature.

“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.

The Chemainus resident is a relative newcomer on the political scene compared to her running mates but her career includes 27 years with the B.C. Ministry of the Attorney General. She now runs a family mediation business.

“I thought that we had a better chance of taking this riding this time,” she added. “I think that over time people will learn that the Green Party is a legitimate, comprehensive plan for B.C. and I wouldn’t be surprised at all if many of the ideas that we come up in our platform aren’t adopted through this next session of the house.”

Now for the first time in Routley’s lifetime a minority government will lead British Columbia.

“We need to do some work to bring people back together and encourage people to work together over the next term,” Routley said. “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.”

Join the conversation on social media by tweeting @lc_chronicle using the hashtag #ladysmithbc or #bcelxn17 or at www.facebook.com/ladysmithchemainuschronicle.

– With files from Nicholas Pescod, Tamara Cunningham

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