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A tale of B.C.: From red to blue, close calls, and big wins

Conservative Party of Canada Leader Andrew Scheer (left) and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (right). (Source: Composite image, the Canadian Press)

The Conservatives took five seats from the Liberals in B.C. on election night

Tories ended up with 16 seats, while Liberals came out with 11 -- six less than they won in 2015

Big story to come out of B.C. on Monday night was the re-election of independent Jody Wilson-Raybould

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – It was a good night for the federal Conservatives in B.C., with the party gaining five seats back from the Liberals in the province during the 43rd general election.

Many of those seats are in the Lower Mainland and the Interior. The Interior is now almost entirely blue, however, the exception is the riding of South Okanagan-West Kootenay, which was close, but was won by NDP incumbent Richard Cannings.

The flip from red to blue in B.C. is partly a return to the historic norm for the province, at least according to one political scientist.

“You know, there was a point where the Conservatives had about 50 per cent of the popular vote in B.C., back to around 2000, so it’s not uncharacteristic,” explains Gerald Baier, associate professor of political science at the University of British Columbia.

“Western Canada, in general… had been less enamored with the Liberals this time around, than they were in 2015, so B.C.’s not an exception to that.”

In B.C., the Tories ended up with a total of 16 seats, while the Liberals came out with 11 — six less than they won in 2015.

The western parts of the province remained firmly NDP, except for the two Green Vancouver Island ridings, both won by Party Leader Elizabeth May and Green candidate Paul Manley — both incumbents.

While vote-splitting among the left-leaning parties may have played a role in the result, the Conservatives also saw a significant gain in the popular vote, up about four points from 2015.

Battleground B.C.

B.C. was always going to be a battleground on election night, which explains why almost all of the federal party leaders ended their campaigns in the province.

Conservative Andrew Scheer, Liberal Justin Trudeau, Green Leader Elizabeth May, and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh all held last minute rallies around Metro Vancouver, none, apparently, having taken the vote in Metro Vancouver for granted in what was a very close race.

In 2015, the Trudeau Liberals only sealed their majority after ballots were counted in B.C. The party jumped from two seats in the province to 17 at that time.

Throughout their days of campaigning, leaders made a number of stops in contested ridings, where polls showed close races in the lead up to Oct. 21.

Despite beliefs that B.C. would play a role in the outcome of the general vote, the election was mostly decided by the time all votes were counted in the province.

JWR will return to the House of Commons

One of the big stories to come out of B.C. on Monday was the re-election of Jody Wilson-Raybould in the Vancouver Granville riding — as an independent.

Wilson-Raybould, a former star Liberal MP managed to win her seat, despite being ousted from Trudeau’s Liberals earlier this year.

Her first words after the big win: “Holy moly.”

She called the victory “humbling,” adding “we accomplished, together, something extraordinary. We accomplished showing Ottawa, showing our political process, that independent, strong voices matter, and that we can do politics differently.”

Wilson-Raybould wasn’t running as an independent by choice — she was given the boot by the Liberal Party in the fallout from the SNC-Lavalin scandal.

Despite the controversy, she said she planned to go back to Parliament Hill to work with politicians of all stripes.

“I congratulate the Liberal Party for their minority government. I do think that the best laws and the best policies come from a minority government situation,” Wilson-Raybould told supporters.

The former attorney general won her riding with over 30 per cent of the vote — almost 3,000 more than the Liberal candidate, who came in second.

In 2015, as a Liberal, she won with over 40 per cent of the vote.

-With files from Kurtis Doering, Monika Gul, Hana Mae Nassar, Nikitha Martins