The red wave that swept across the country last night didn’t flow into the newly formed South Okanagan-West Kootenay (SOWK) riding.
This area remained orange for a fourth straight federal election as the Liberals took hold of most of Canada.
NDP Richard Cannings was declared the winner after garnering 24,823 votes after almost 74 per cent of electors cast a ballot. By 9:45 p.m. Cannings had arrived to the celebration at his Penticton headquarters.
“I pledge to not only take your concerns to Ottawa, but also to seek out your ideas on how we can make this a better place to live,” Cannings told the crowd. “Together we can build a better country and a Canada we can be proud of once again.”
By the time all votes were tallied Conservative Marshall Neufeld gained enough to move into second with 19,894, Liberal Connie Denesiuk slipped into third with 18,727 votes, followed by Samantha Troy from the Green Party, 2,851 and Independent Brian Gray, 432.
By the time B.C. voting stations closed at 7 p.m. the Liberals already had a near majority government. By 7:15 p.m., the east to west sweep had Justin Trudeau named the next Prime Minister with a majority government, which at that point, was projected at 172 seats and counting.
The trend ended in the South Okanagan-West Kootenay as Cannings took an early lead and maintained about 600 votes over Liberal Connie Denesiuk. Behind her by about 600 votes was Conservative Marshall Neufeld, with Samantha Troy from the Green Party and Independent Brian Gray trailing.
During the course of the night, the NDP lead widened, and after 150 polls, Cannings pulled ahead by over 1,200 votes. Notably at the half way point, Denesiuk already had 6,700 more votes than the Liberals received in the 2011 election.
“We’re thrilled to see that Canada’s back on the right track,” Liberal candidate Connie Denesiuk told Dan Walton of the Penticton Western News. “He’s the only leader that offered real change, now. The Conservatives said the status quo is good enough and the NDP said they’ll balance the books and then maybe fulfill their promises later. People want change and they want it now. And that’s what Justin Trudeau offered.”
UPDATE 9:30 p.m.
Media projects NDP Richard Cannings the winner.
Richard Cannings NDP 15,042
Connie Denesiuk Liberal 12,382
Marshall Neufeld Conservative 11,835
Samantha Troy, Green 1,849
Brian Gray, Independent 294
UPDATE 9:14 p.m.
Richard Cannings NDP 11,313
Connie Denesiuk Liberal 9,506
Marshall Neufeld Conservative 8780
Samantha Troy, Green 1440
Brian Gray, Independent 252
UPDATE 8:45 p.m.
Richard Cannings NDP 8663
Connie Denesiuk Liberal 7511
Marshall Neufeld Conservative 6820
Samantha Troy, Green 1081
Brian Gray, Independent 166
UPDATE 8:30 p.m.
85 polls reporting
Richard Cannings NDP 5235
Connie Denesiuk Liberal 4551
Marshall Neufeld Conservative 3920
Samantha Troy, Green 615
Brian Gray, Independent 99
UPDATE 8:20 p.m.
45 polls reporting and NDP Richard Cannings lead widens
Richard Cannings NDP 2,921
Connie Denesiuk Liberal 2,386
Marshall Neufeld Conservative 1,840
Samantha Troy, Green 332
Brian Gray, Independent 54
UPDATE 8:05 p.m.
25 polls reporting and NDP Richard Cannings takes slim lead
Richard Cannings NDP 1,649
Connie Denesiuk, Liberal, 1,410
Marshall Neufeld, Conservative, 1,066
Samantha Troy, Green, 185
Brian Gray, Independent, 39
UPDATE 8:00 p.m.
Five polls in the South Okanagan-West Kootenay riding, and Liberal Connie Denesiuk has taken an early lead.
So far:Liberal Connie Denesiuk 309
Conservative Marshall Neufeld 237
NDP Richard Cannings 298
Green Party Samantha Troy 33
Independent Brian Gray 4
More to come on what is already a Liberal Majority Government.
Whether Canadians show up and vote ABC or not, today’s results will be a first in the Trail area.
Whether it’s orange, red, blue, green or Independent Brian Gray, whomever receives the most votes will be the inaugural leader for the South Okanagan-West Kootenay riding.
The candidates, Liberal Connie Denesiuk, NDP Richard Cannings, Conservative Marshall Neufeld, and Gray, all hail from the Okanagan. Samantha Troy, a political newcomer who was the last to announce her candidacy (mid-September) for the Green Party, lives in Rossland.
With the traditionally Conservative Okanagan intertwining with the long time West Kootenay NDP base, and a strong Liberal candidate, the MP seat is up for grabs pending the direction of 91,000 electors from Castlegar, Trail, Rossland, and Grand Forks, through the Central Kootenay and Okanagan-Similkameen to Penticton.
And, with three-term NDP MP Alex Atamanenko passing the torch to Cannings, rookie Conservative Marshall Neufeld taking party reins from Dan Albas from the former Okanagan-Coquihalla riding, and first time Liberal candidate Denesiuk, no matter who prevails, a new face will be representing the region in Ottawa.
Electoral boundaries in the West Kootenay and Okanagan have changed many times throughout the years, but no matter where the Greater Trail area has fallen in the mix, its Member of Parliament has been either NDP or Conservative.
The exception is Jim Gouk, a three-term MP who held the seat for the Reform Party from 1993 to 2000 in what was then the Kootenay West-Revelstoke riding. A boundary change moved the region into the West Kootenay-Okanagan riding that year, with Gouk retaining the position for the Canadian Alliance Party until 2003, and finishing his political career as a Conservative in 2006.
Since then, Atamanenko won the seat by a large margin, serving as NDP MP for B.C. Southern Interior until his retirement earlier this year.
Notably, there’s never been a Liberal MP since the Kootenay West riding was created in 1914. (Kootenay West was abolished in 1987 when it merged into Kootenay West-Revelstoke)
And, there hasn’t been a Liberal MP in the Okanagan since 1972.
So Oct. 19 could make history if Denesiuk topples the Conservative and NDP strongholds.
Looking to past results, Atamanenko called the 2011 election a “two-way race” between his party and Conservative candidate Stephen Hill. The former school teacher won his third term after he out-polled Hill by 10 per cent and left Green candidate Bryan Hunt and Liberal Shan Lavell trailing far behind.
Overall votes were 22,729 for the NDP, the Conservatives with 17,352, the Green Party, 2,896 and Liberals, 1,695.
In 2008, Atamanenko won with 22,693 votes, followed by Conservative Rob Zandee with 17,122, Andy Morel from the Green Party with 4,573 votes, Liberal Brenda Jagpal, 3,292 votes, and Marxist-Leninist candidate Brian Sproule, 80 votes.
Prior to Atamanenko’s first term win in 2006, Conservative Jim Gouk held the riding leadership nine years.