New Democrat Nathan Cullen is heading back to Ottawa after cruising to victory in Skeena-Bulkley Valley in the May 2 federal election.
With 247 of 250 polls counted, the preliminary results showed Cullen had received 19,238 votes, just over 2,000 more than in 2008, and in doing so took a fraction under 55 per cent of the vote.
That’s his largest margin of victory yet.
Conservative Clay Harmon tallied 12,255 votes (34.9 per cent), just 330 less than the party received in the last election, in what was essentially a two-party race.
Liberal Kyle Warwick hung on for third with 1,266 votes, 700 less than the party garnered in 2008. The Liberal vote has now fallen nearly 7,000 since 2004.
The Green Party’s Roger Benham was next at 1,098 votes – some 500 votes less than Honda Arendt got for the party last time – followed by perennial Christian Heritage Party candidate Rod Taylor (1,044) and Maggie Braun of the Canadian Action Party (164).
Cullen attributed his win to hard work on the part of his campaign team.
“There’s such a good feeling; a good family feeling,” he said speaking from a victory party held here at the Rod and Gun.
Cullen also spoke of the work that goes into being a Member of Parliament in the riding.
“I spend a lot of my life on the road,” said Cullen. “Politics is personal here. You have to get to know people to earn their trust.”
This is Cullen’s fourth consecutive win, equaling the record of Jim Fulton who held the riding for the New Democratic Party from 1979 to 1993.
Despite losing, Harmon was happy about the national result which saw the Conservatives attain a comfortable majority – they took 167 of the 308 seats.
“It means that our country will have some strong leadership and it will be certain over a period of time- there will be stability,” Harmon said.
But he was worried the riding will not have representation in Ottawa because of the NDP win here and because of that, businesses may be cautious about investing in the region.
“Mr. Cullen will be in opposition,” he said. “So any of the initiatives that happen, if he votes the party line, he will be against those initiatives. So that will hurt the riding I think, and it’s most unfortunate,” Harmon added.
He said a benefit for the country will be the ability to move with certainty into phase two of the Conservative government’s Canada Economic Action plan.
“On the down side we are going to have somebody who is going to be working against business in our riding,” Harmon said.
That said, he added, “My best wishes to Mr. Cullen and his family.”
Preliminary numbers show there was a 58.6 per cent turnout in Skeena-Bulkley Valley, approximately three per cent less than the 2008 federal election and below the national average for last night which was 61.4 per cent.
If this was a big night for Cullen, it was huge for the New Democratic Party nationally as they swept 58 seats in Quebec to propel them to a national total of 102 and official opposition status.
The Liberal party was badly mauled, collapsing to a worst-ever performance of 34 seats and the Bloc Quebecois was annihilated, returning only four MPs.
Both the Liberal (Michael Ignatieff) and Bloc (Gilles Duceppe) leaders lost their own seats and stepped aside as leaders of their respective parties.
But it was a night of celebration for the Greens as Elizabeth May defeated a Conservative cabinet minister in the Saanich-Gulf Islands riding on Vancouver Island to become the first Green to be sent to Ottawa.