Save for a tinge of green, Vancouver Island went orange in a big way Monday night during the federal election.
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May won her seat — Saanich-Gulf Islands — with 54 per cent of the vote. ‘Won her seat’ is an understatement — May had 23,813 votes more than her closest competitor.
The wide-margin theme was constant in most of the other six ridings on Vancouver Island, all of which won by NDP candidates.
Closest to home, two re-drawn ridings that were both represented by Conservatives were part of the Orange Crush on Monday.
Gord Johns of the NDP had 7,000 more votes than veteran Conservative John Duncan in Courtenay-Alberni, the riding that includes Parksville Qualicum Beach. More than 76 per cent of the roughly 99,000 registered electors in the riding cast a ballot.
(Compare that to the 2014 municipal election in Parksville, which had a voter turnout of 35 per cent.)
In the 2011 federal election, people in Lantzville and North Nanaimo were part of the riding that included Parksville Qualicum Beach. The boundaries were re-drawn for 2015 and those voters are now part of the Nanaimo-Ladysmith riding.
The NDP won big there too, with Sheila Malcolmson taking the seat. She earned 6,270 votes more than her closest rival, Tim Tessier of the Liberals. Mark MacDonald of the Conservatives was third.
Continuing south, the NDP’s Alistair MacGregor took Cowichan-Malahat-Langford with 7,000 more votes than the second-place finisher, Liberal Luke Krayenhoff.
The Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke race was a little closer, with the NDP’s Randall Garrison beating Liberal David Merner by just over 5,000 votes.
NDP veteran Murray Rankin won the Victoria riding by about 6,500 votes over second-place finisher Jo-Ann Roberts of the Green Party.
North of Courtenay-Alberni in the North Island-Powell River riding, the NDP’s Rachel Blaney continued the convincing-victory trend with 8,000 more votes than her closest rival, Laura Smith of the Conservatives.
While it was a great night for the NDP on the Island, the sam could not be said of the NDP’s national showing. The party that had 95 seats and Official Opposition status after the 2011 election was reduced to 44 seats on Monday night.
The Conservatives suffered a similar fate, going from 159 seats at the time parliament was dissolved a few months ago to 99 after Monday’s votes were counted.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Monday night he would be stepping down as party leader. Duncan, the Conservative whip who was an MP for most of the last two decades and one of Harper’s trusted lieutenants, suggested Monday night that the national campaign— and not Island issues — steered the votes away from Conservatives.
“There’s no way around it, that’s what happens,” said Duncan. “And obviously on this occasion, that’s what happened big time.”
Duncan told The Comox Valley Record he will spend the next few days clearing out his three offices and preparing for life out of the public eye.
“All good things do come to an end at some point,” he said.
MacDonald, the Conservatives candidate in Nanaimo-Ladysmith, sounded more bitter about his defeat when he spoke to
The Nanaimo Daily News.
“Get ready to pay more taxes,” MacDonald said about the Liberals and how they would pay for the promises Prime Minister-elect Justin Trudeau made during the campaign.
MacDonald also said the Nanaimo area needs government help and that might be more difficult to achieve with an MP (the NDP’s Malcolmson) who belongs to a party with the third-most seats in Parliament.
“I feel bad for Nanaimo now that we have an NDP member who will sit in opposition,” said MacDonald.
“I’m not feeling any bitterness, but we need government help here.”