Cannings takes South Okanagan-West Kootenay

Richard Cannings of the NDP will be our area's next MP. Federally, Justin Trudeau will be next Prime Minister.

NDP supporters watch the election results pour in at the local NDP office in Grand Forks on election (Monday) night.

The people have spoken and Justin Trudeau is the new prime minister of Canada. Trudeau and the Liberal Party won a majority government by taking 184 ridings, which is 54.4 per cent of the ridings in the country. The Liberals received 39.5 per cent of all votes (6,930,146). The Conservative Party was second with 99 ridings (29.3 per cent) and had 31.9 per cent of all votes (5,600,496 votes. The NDPs were third with 44 ridings (13.0 per cent) and had 19.7 per cent of all votes (3,461,262).

Locally, Richard Cannings of the NDP will be the very first South Okanagan-West Kootenay Member of Parliament (MP) after picking up 37.2 per cent (24,823) of the votes for the region. Marshall Neufeld of the Conservatives (29.9 per cent) and Connie Denesiuk of the Liberals (28.1 per cent) were not far behind in second and third respectively. Green Party candidate Samantha Troy ended up with 4.3 per cent, while independent Brian Gray had 0.6 per cent.

Voter turnout for the South Okanagan-West Kootenay was 73.57 per cent (66,727 of 90,694 registered electors).

About 50 people packed the NDP office on Second Avenue in Grand Forks to watch the election results pour in. The supporters were elated when Cannings was confirmed the winner.

Office manager and NDP riding association member Darwin Benson said everyone in the office was ecstatic.

“We still have a lot of work to do but I can tell you the crew that’s here tonight is all happy that Cannings won,” said Benson. “We’re all happy that he won and we wish him the best.”

Edward Robinson, Election Day manager for the office, was also happy the NDP candidate won and just as pleased that Harper was voted out.

“I’m elated,” he said. “I’m ecstatic that Harper lost. I found him the most vile, arrogant person I have seen. He had such disregard for the working man. I wish people had listened to Tom Mulcair and we had done better but at least in our area we have a presence in Ottawa.”

“It was very scary because the area is regionalized,” said Robinson. “In some parts we feel very confident and others not so confident and in other areas we’re just in a quandary. We couldn’t really calculate how it would go until we went up 2,000 and started holding there.”

Both Benson and Robinson had very long days working to manage scrutineers and co-ordinate the election night gathering.

Benson said they had worked in the office for 77 days organizing efforts for the campaign.

“We tried to get a good group of people to work here and we did,” he said. “We did just as well this year as Alex (previous MP Atamanenko) in his last election. The polls show that Grand Forks is an NDP stronghold and we have to hold on to that because in two years we have a provincial election.”

Robinson said it was important for the NDP to have an office in Grand Forks. “A presence is always noted,” he said. “We were the only party that had an actual office in the Boundary. I think that helps so the people believe we are taking care of it. Rural ridings are very difficult to organize. The more you can break it down the better it is. You get way more done face to face. People appreciate talking to you in person.”

Robinson said he doesn’t think Cannings will keep an office in Grand Forks because it “isn’t financially viable.”

“He has to have a budget,” he said. “I think he’ll keep a presence here by coming through and talking to people and hopefully having a town hall-style meeting in the Boundary once in awhile. That’s important.”

Robinson expects Cannings will have offices in Castlegar and Penticton.

“I think he’ll serve the people very well,” said Robinson. “I believe one of the reasons he did win was because Alex did serve the people well. Not only that but you look at Canning’s persona. He’s very caring. You have the feeling he’s going to do something very special.”

In the Kootenay-Columbia region, which now includes Nelson and Salmo, Wayne Stetski of the NDP won a narrow battle with incumbent David Wilks of the Conservatives 37.2 per cent to 36.8 per cent.

Liberals won the most B.C. seats with 17 (40.5 per cent of total), while the NDP had 14 (33.3 per cent) and Conservatives had 10 (23.8 per cent). Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party, once again won her riding in Saanich-Gulf Islands for the only Green Party victory.