Katrine Conroy

BC Liberals stun NDP at the polls

It's a majority government for the Liberals; the NDP's Katrine Conroy secures Kootenay West

B.C’s path for the next four years will be forged with a majority Liberal government at the helm after Christy Clark and the BC Liberals took an early lead as results came in and the numbers continued to climb throughout the evening.

As of publication at 11:30 p.m., of the 85 seats up for grabs in the legislature, the Liberals were leading or elected in 50, the NDP were at 33, while the Green Party had 1, “Other” was at 1 and the Conservatives had 0.

Locally, incumbent Katrine Conroy (NDP) took the Kootenay West seat in a landslide.

Here are the percentages and vote tallies on the night: Conroy 62.99 per cent (10,606); Jim Postnikoff (BC LIberal) 21.33 per cent (3,592); Joseph Hughes (Independent) 13.30 per cent (2,239) and Glen Byle (Independent) 2.38 per cent (400).

According to Elections BC, final voting results will not be available until after the conclusion of the final count, which begins on May 27.

The BC Liberals were led by Christy Clark, who took over as party leader in February of 2011 and were down in the majority of polls heading into the final days of the campaign.

The NDP, with  Adrian Dix as leader, looked to be clear favourites across B.C.’s ridings but the faces of those gathered at Conroy’s reception at the Portuguese Social Centre were a mix of shock and gratitude that their candidate bucked the provincial trend.

Speaking from Castlegar, surrounded by supporters at a reception at the Portuguese Conroy said she would continue to do what she has done as MLA in the past.

“Provincially, this is a concern and I’m watching and hoping the numbers will change as more polls are counted,” said Conroy. “Some of the riding don’t have more than 50 per cent of the polls counted so we’ll hope things change by morning.”

Conroy was asked if she felt the possible continuation of a Liberal government would make her job that much harder.

“It would make it harder but I’ve always worked hard in this constituency and will continue to work hard and will continue to represent the people of this area,” said Conroy. “Hopefully, I can continue the work I’ve been doing with seniors and making sure those issues are being addressed. We’ll continue to fight for what’s right and what needs to be done in this province.”

Conroy was first elected as the MLA for West Kootenay-Boundary in 2005 before the boundaries were redrawn in 2008.

She won the Kootenay West riding in the 2009 provincial election. She served as opposition critic for Seniors and Long-term Care.

In the 2009 election, Conroy took 66 per cent of the vote and won by over 8,000 votes ahead of the Liberal Party’s Brenda Binnie.

“I have an amazing team,” said Conroy. “I’ve got to thank all the people in this constituency that worked so hard to get us elected here. I don’t do this by myself. There’s still lots to do — we’ll get the office tidied up and carry on.”

Reached by telephone, nearest challenger Jim Postnikoff spoke about the difference between his campaign and that of the eventual winner.

“We went on a strong economy and a secure tomorrow and we wanted to get out to the people; we wanted a stronger voice in Victoria,” said Postnikoff. “She’s got the very strong union movement here that always leans to socialist programs and that’s what the people of the area seem to want. In a democratic process, it’s up to the people.”

Postnikoff said he thought he would get a stronger union vote and said he would not rule out another run.

“The incumbent always has the advantage and the other big thing you have to understand is a lot of people didn’t want a lame-duck MLA in this area,” he said. “A lot of people thought, provincially, that the NDP were going to win. Going through this campaign, I think she’s heard loud and clear what the constituents want and what she needs to do to bring some of these things home.”

Strong showings in all-candidates forums by independent candidate from Nakusp, Joseph Hughes, translated into fairly impressive numbers for a first-time, independent candidate.

Prior to the results being announced, Hughes said he was looking forward to celebrating with his family regardless of the outcome.

“We may go camping shortly after the results and get re-grounded,” said Hughes. “It’s been an incredible adventure for the family and we’ve met some great people. It’s been inspirational and a lot of work.”

An initiative by the other independent candidate Glen Byle, supporting the creation of a website to assist with “technology enabled democracy,” did not seem to resonate with voters; something that Byle acknowledged in previous interviews would take some time to not only explain but implement.

A hands-on person who fixes electronics for a living, Byle said the highlight of running was to meet people who really liked his platform, and believe, like he does, that it could improve the way the political system works.

“I was hoping to give people a chance to vote for something they wouldn’t have to compromise on; if people do that, I’ll be happy,” he said. “I hope to be able to make a party for the federal election.”

To read more about the system Byle was proposing, visit www.kowindependent.ca

In neighbouring ridings, incumbent NDP candidate Michelle Mungall of Nelson-Creston retained her seat garnering just over 50 per cent of the vote. The Boundary-Similkameen stayed Liberal with Linda Larson topping the polls with over 46 per cent. Liberal Bill Bennett easily took the Kootenay East riding with just over 63 per cent.

 

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