David Coupland's campaign headquarters in Parksville were quiet as the early results trickled in Tuesday evening and a B.C. Conservative Party breakthrough appeared unlikely.
Within an hour, and with only 20 per cent of the polls reporting in the constituency, Coupland made a concession speech.
"The people of B.C. aren't ready for better government yet," said Coupland. "People are just going from bad government to bad government."
He thanked his campaign workers and family for their support and turned to the bigger picture, framing the election as a good start to the party's comeback.
"We really tried to propose a new way of governing, B.C. needs it. I heard it on the doorstep, every second door — we're not happy, we need change. Unfortunately they got scared, they backed away from meaningful change."
"David for our next leader!" someone later called from the crowd of about 40 getting a good cheer summing up the mood of optimism for next time.
"There's always next time," someone else said.
"This is a start, I can tell you a lot of people liked it but they got bullied to go back to the old way because bad is better than worse — but I think we need better government in B.C. and we are going to get there one day."
"Our message was we need a fiscally conservative pragmatic party that's going to govern from the centre and do what's in the long term interest of British Columbians, not in the special interest of these two governments," he said, again getting applause from the subdued audience.
Later asked about running again, he told The NEWS it's too early to think about that, he's taking a few days off before going back to work, but his speech sounded more like a campaign speech than a concession.
"We need a government that can restore the public trust, that's going to be honest, transparent and accountable to British Columbians and one that's going to allow for MLAs to vote what is in the best interest of British Columbians."
"British Columbia is nowhere near its potential, we're treading water, we're five of six in a whole host of categories and it's nonsense that taxes aren't high, when you add up indirect and direct taxes we're fifth or sixth."
"We're in debt, they're not balancing any budgets, 30,000 people — our youth — are leaving to Alberta every year. It's a global competitive world — our education needs to be reformed along with our health care and we really need to create an environment where we can create jobs and have a much better economy."
"We know the best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour, we know what we're going to get with the Liberals and the NDP — the same nonsense we've had for the last 22 years, it's not what British Columbia needs and its not where we need to go."