After a nail-biter of an election campaign in which North Vancouver was considered one of the bellwether ridings for final results, Liberal heavyweight Jonathan Wilkinson held his seat.
Preliminary numbers from Elections Canada showed Wilkinson took 26,402 votes, or 42.7 per cent of all ballots cast, while his closest competitor Conservative Andrew Saxton finished 16,775 or 27.1 per cent overall.
Wilkinson gave a victory speech thanking supporters after polls showed him with a decisive lead around 9 p.m.
“Our government has worked very hard with all Canadians to build a better Canada,” said Wilkinson. “I am very, very proud of what everyone in this room has accomplished over the past four years.”
Wilkinson told supporters that striving “for a better society” is a message he took from his “political idol” Tommy Douglas.
“I think all of us in this room believe in the idea of striving for a Canada of tomorrow, that improves upon and is better than the Canada today. We look forward to a Canada that endeavors to become more just, more environmentally responsible, and also more prosperous,” he said.
Wilkinson arrived at a party for supporters at North Vancouver’s Polygon Gallery before 8 p.m. on election night Monday, after a Liberal government was called but well before final results were determined.
Wilkinson said the Liberals’ message “around the importance of environmental issues and climate change, but doing this in a manner that is actually thoughtful and realistic, is something that resonated with Canadians. I think Canadians want a government that cares about economic prosperity. But at a time when we are also looking towards ensuring we have environmental sustainability, like that was a very important issue,” he said,
Wilkinson said he thinks many undecided voters opted to vote Liberal in the final days and weeks of the election.
“I think that over the last few days, we’ve felt the people really wanted to see a progressive government. And they’re concerned about the idea of allowing a Conservative government to be elected.”
Wilkinson predicted a minority government led by the Liberals would prove quite stable.
“I think Canadians are not going to want to see another election anytime soon. And I think it will be incumbent on those other parties to think about that,” he said, adding that there was an opportunity to collaborate with the NDP and the Greens on issues like climate change.
When Saxton arrived at his party just across the Foot of Lonsdale around 9 p.m., votes were still being counted, but he said a call to congratulate Wilkinson was likely coming.
Saxton told volunteers he’d never seen a better campaign.
“They say that 90 per cent of a campaign is the federal party and the federal leader, and 10 per cent is the local campaign, and we gave 100 per cent of that 10 per cent,” he said.
And Saxton warned them not to stray too far, suggesting they may be needed again sooner rather than later.
“The average length of a minority government in Canada is 18 months so based on the average, we could be doing this again in 18 months,” he said.
“Saxton 2021!” one of his supporters shouted in response.
“We should have recovered by then. Our energy will be back and ready to go again,” Saxton finished. “Let’s keep the team together.”
NDP candidate Justine Bell said she was proud of the 10,116 votes – 16.3 per cent overall — her campaign pulled in, the party’s best result since 1988.
“We were dancing into the evening,” she said. “I really believe our message resonated.”
When she met Wilkinson to congratulate him on election night, she emphasized to him the need for the government to prioritize reconciliation with the Squamish Nation, which was a big base of NDP support locally, she said.
“The reason why is because people are really frustrated,” she said. “I think people wanted to vote for something and not against something.”
In a minority government, Bell warned the Liberals can’t expect the NDP to compromise on matters of social or environmental justice. Bell said she would leave the door open to running again in North Vancouver,
“But if we want everyday people to live and thrive in North Vancouver, our government has to do better,” she said.
Green Party challenger George Orr finished with 7,676 votes or 12.4 per cent – the best a Green has ever done in the riding. Personally, Orr said he was handling the loss well but, he added, he was still perplexed at the final result.
“I had a grand adventure. We talked to a lot of people. I did what I thought I could do and the voters decided,” he said. “I don’t understand why people don’t hear the message around climate warming. I don’t. That confuses me. ... The larger truth was people were afraid of the Conservatives and they voted strategically”
Orr predicted even less shelf life for the incoming minority government.
“I think we’ll do this again in six months,” he said.
The People’s Party of Canada’s candidate Azmairnin Jadavji finished the night with 905 votes or 1.5 per cent overall. Preliminary numbers show a 70.11-per-cent voter turnout rate, not including people who registered at the polls, the highest in Metro Vancouver, though down from 76.79 per cent in 2015.