Liberal Terry Beech pulled ahead early Monday night to claim victory in the tight Burnaby North-Seymour election race.
Despite having some breathing room, Beech remained “cautiously optimistic” while hitting refresh on his smart phone and knocking on every wooden table at Joey’s restaurant on Lougheed Highway where his crowd of supporters had gathered.
“I feel absolutely humbled, so much gratitude for everybody that helped make this happen. It was tens of thousands of hours from thousands of people,” said Beech, a Burnaby resident and CEO of a tech company.
When it was all said and done, Beech took the riding with 18,742 votes, trailed by NDP candidate Carol Baird Ellan with 15,225 votes and Conservative Mike Little with 14,558 votes. Green Party candidate Lynne Quarmby picked up 2,695 votes.
Beech attributed a Liberal win on NDP turf to the new riding boundaries, leader Justin Trudeau’s campaign and “a lot of hard work on the ground.”
Beech’s first order of business the morning after his win was to call and thank the volunteers that worked on his campaign.
“(Then) I’m going to roll up my sleeves and start to get to work for the people of Burnaby North-Seymour,” he said. “I plan on being one of the hardest-working, most visible and accessible MPs we’ve had in this riding.”
Baird Ellan graciously conceded defeat, saying: “The voters have spoken, and I respect their decision,” she said. “I have called Terry to congratulate him on a campaign well run. ... The voters made a decision. They said they wanted change in their riding and in the country, and they made their decision.”
When asked how she thought the campaign went, Baird Ellan, a retired judge, said it was “awesome.”
But there was a fair amount of undecided voters in the riding and a strong anti-Harper sentiment, she added, unsure if strategic voting played a role in the shift towards the Liberals.
When asked if she would run again, Baird Ellan replied, laughing: “That’s like asking a woman who just gave birth if she wants to have another baby. All I can say is I’ve thoroughly enjoyed being in the company of all the people I worked with on this campaign, and I hope to see more of them.”
Conservative candidate Mike Little, meanwhile, was stationed with his supporters, which included his four children, at Seymour’s Pub as the election results rolled in.
Early on in the evening Little talked about the Tories’ campaign, saying the party struggled part way through and saw numbers drop, but the Conservatives brought forward new ideas and those numbers picked up again.
He also tipped his hat to the Liberals, which he said ran a strong campaign by catching the energy and putting the Tories on the defensive.
“When you are defending, you are losing,” said Little.
When it became obvious Beech was the clear victor in the hard-fought race, Little gave his concession speech and thanked those who stepped up and supported his campaign.
“We can still celebrate a great effort,” said Little. “We gave the people of Burnaby North - Seymour a very clear picture of what our policies were and platforms were. We weren’t in line with the community this time, but after a few years of these guys in office I’m sure we’ll have a lot more people interested in supporting us.”
Thirty seconds into his address, Little received some heckling from drunk bar patrons, who were there to watch the Blue Jays game, that yelled, “Go Liberals,” during his concession speech. A young Liberal supporter showed up to the Conservative camp at Seymour’s with a bunch of red balloons, at another point in the evening.
“We’ll wait until their taxes go up and see how much they are talking then,” he quipped.
Little said he planned to call Beech to congratulate him.
“And we’re going to work with him, you know, try to find ways to advance issues for our community, and we will try to keep an open relationship with them; we’ll try to make it happen,” he said. “But it’s a very hard day for us because both nationally and locally we’ve suffered a big defeat here.”
As for what is next politically for the former District of North Vancouver councillor, Little said, “I’m not going anywhere; my whole family is here. I’ll find some other way to get involved.”
In terms of voter turnout, 51,840 of 74,071 registered electors (not including those who registered on election day) cast ballots in the Burnaby North – Seymour riding which has a population of 100,632.