Andrea Rondeau, Lexi Bainas, Kevin Rothbauer Citizen and Don Descoteau Goldstream Gazette
Even as federal NDP leader Tom Mulcair made a subdued speech to supporters in Quebec, local NDP candidate Alistair MacGregor was being declared the winner of the Cowichan-Malahat-Langford riding, with a healthy lead over the other four candidates.
Though his party’s seats in Ottawa were reduced substantially, and nationally the NDP’s results had to be seen as a disappointment, MacGregor was upbeat and excited by his win and the prospect of heading to Ottawa.
“The people of Cowichan-Malahat-Langford have sent a clear message tonight,” MacGregor said. “You voted for change! Rejecting the politics of fear and division, you voted for a better and more inclusive Canada. And that was a good thing.”
He went on to assure everyone, even those who had supported other candidates that he was “going to fight for those values every single day.”
He thanked his team, “especially for keeping going when we were so tired, after an 11-week campaign.”
“I am deeply humbled by the trust you have placed in me tonight. I will work every single day with every ounce of energy I have to keep on earning that trust. It’s a very sacred thing,” he said.
For much of the night second place swung between Liberal candidate Luke Krayenhoff, whose party swept to a majority government in Ottawa, and Conservative candidate Martin Barker, who saw his party pushed from power.
“There were a few Conservative ships dashed upon Liberal shores tonight, and ours was one of them,” said Barker at his headquarters in Duncan where a small crowd had gathered to watch the results roll in.
Conservative leader Stephen Harper had said before voting day that should his party lose he would step down as party leader. The CBC reported that Conservative Party of Canada president John Walsh released a short statement saying Harper has instructed him to reach out to the elected caucus with the goal of naming an interim leader, though Harper himself made no immediate announcement about his future Monday night.
“Congratulations to Justin Trudeau,” Barker said. “They ran a good campaign and the people have spoken.”
“We really did well. I believe it was this red tsunami that washed over us. We never foresaw our Conservative support going so thoroughly to the Liberals.”
Barker said he was also surprised by the local results.
“The result here surprised me, not in the NDP victory, but in the numbers themselves. The Liberal tide that washed over Canada also washed over Cowichan-Malahat-Langford.”
He took the time to acknowledge all of his competitors for the local seat.
“My heart goes out to Luke, Fran and the other Alastair, [Haythornthwaite] because I know what goes into it.”
Krayenhoff, who came into the Cowichan-Malahat-Langford race at the last moment following the resignation of Maria Manna, gave kudos to winner MacGregor of the NDP. Krayenhoff noted, however, the Liberals made an impact in a short time.
“The Liberals have made a strong showing in this riding,” he said. “We’ve got everything to be proud of.”
Of his party’s national accomplishment, Krayenhoff added, “We had no idea it would be such a strong success. We’re just over the moon.”
While the pre-election polls hinted at the Liberals forming at least a minority government, he downplayed their importance.
Among the changes he said the Liberals plan on implementing is a change from the first-past-the-post system that essentially gives Western voters little chance on effecting the overall result.
“We’re going to look at all options, but we want one where people can just vote on principle more than being so strategic all the time.”
In fourth place Fran Hunt-Jinnouchi picked up a respectable vote tally, with Alastair Haythornthwaite of the Marxist-Leninist Party trailing well behind.
Hunt-Jinnouchi felt good about her own campaign and the people she was able to reach.
“I actually feel very proud of my team and how they were able to mobilize and get out our message of hope and standing up for the environment in a way that got people listening and starting to get involved,” she said. “My canvassing coordinator is only 18. I had people on my team that had never voted before. It was inspiring to see what we did accomplish.”
Nationally was another story.
“It’s very disappointing because we are at such a crucial time in Canadian history, to bring a Green perspective and voice to making decisions that are going to impact our future,” Hunt-Jinnouchi explained.
The way the campaign played out was less than ideal, with a “story of fear” leading to a “heave Steve” mentality and strategic voting, which may have affected the outcome for the Green Party.
“When I look at what’s happened, I feel that Mr. Trudeau ran a sincere campaign and people saw through the fear-mongering,” she concluded.
With files from Don Descoteau, Goldstream Gazette