VANCOUVER — The map of election winners in British Columbia mirrored the political spectrum after Monday’s election — NDP on the left, Conservatives on the right and Liberals right down the middle.
Vancouver Island and the northwest were the literal left coast, going almost exclusively to the New Democrats, save for the Greens’ Elizabeth May in Saanich−Gulf Islands.
On the right side of the map, the Conservatives held on to their ridings in resource−rich northeast B.C. and the Southern Interior, save for a few seats that went Liberal or NDP.
And in B.C.’s urban centre, Metro Vancouver, the Liberal wave swept through, unseating a number of Conservative and NDP incumbents.
“I think we listened, we talked to a lot of people, we felt the momentum build,” said Carla Qualtrough, the Liberal candidate who beat National Revenue Minister Kerry−Lynne Findlay in Delta.
The riding south of Vancouver is emblematic of many the Conservatives fought hard for and lost in the Lower Mainland.
Qualtrough, a lawyer and Paralympian, noted that prior to redistribution the northern part of the riding had leaned NDP, while the south had been Conservative for four decades.
“The way we’re going to govern the country is going to be different,” she said. “Justin Trudeau has squarely committed to reshaping the way government does its business, to giving his MPs more authority and holding them more accountable.”
The Liberals won all but one Surrey riding, South Surrey−White Rock, where the Conservatives ran a star candidate, immensely popular former Surrey mayor Dianne Watts.
In Vancouver South, Liberal Harjit Sajjan toppled Conservative MP Wai Young, whose comment that Jesus would support Bill C−51 made headlines earlier this year. Ridings in North Vancouver and West Vancouver also swung Liberal from Conservative.
Hamish Telford, associate professor of political science at the University of the Fraser Valley, said the Liberal and Conservative split is clear in B.C.
“It’s a real urban—rural divide,” he said. “The Liberals really are the party of urban Canada and they were able to capitalize on that.
“The rest of the province is going to feel unrepresented in a Trudeau government. And that’s going to cause a certain amount of anxiety.”
The mood was sullen at an NDP post−election gathering in Vancouver as crestfallen crowds watched the results roll in. They sat mutely as the Liberals’ red tide crept across the country.
Joy MacPhail, a longtime New Democrat and former opposition leader in the provincial legislature, said she was disappointed.
“I thought this would be the election where we’d get a great New Democrat prime minister but it was not to be,” she said.
“I think the lesson learned is that Canadians wanted change and the change message of the Liberals seemed to resonate across the country.”
The atmosphere was decidedly more festive just a few kilometres away, where Liberals had packed into a Vancouver pub to celebrate their stunning return from the political wilderness.
Justin Kaiser, national president of the Young Liberals of Canada, said Trudeau had inspired a large youth turnout by fighting for more jobs and more accessible higher education and vowing to legalize marijuana.
“Justin Trudeau had a message. From the moment he became a Member of Parliament he’s been fighting for youth,” he said.
Former Liberal health minister Ujjal Dosanjh credited the party’s victory to Justin Trudeau’s hard work and ability to connect with Canadians.
“I’m pleased. We were written off for dead four years ago and Mr. Trudeau has, with his hard work, propelled the party to this great victory,” he said in an interview from his Vancouver home.
Yukon’s lone riding went to Liberal candidate Larry Bagnell.
The Canadian Press