Voters in the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola have re-elected Conservative candidate Dan Albas to represent them in Ottawa.
This is the third time Albas has been elected to the House of Commons. He was first elected in 2011 and re-elected in 2015.
Albas took the lead in the riding early with more than 47 per cent of the popular vote.
From Wings pub in West Kelowna, Albas thanked everyone from the voters to the volunteers who gave their time to every campaign, not just his own, during the 2019 federal election.
“The candidates we all worked very hard at all forums to show what they could do for the country and all felt very passionate about it,” he said. “Ultimately Canadians and the voters of the Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola had their say and they said they wanted to see me return to Parliament, that I am accessible and accountable to them.”
Overall looking at the minority Liberal government, Albas said he believes voters are never wrong.
“They have called for a weakened, hopefully somewhat chasten (Liberal) prime minister and it is a rebuke for his policies and his divisive politics,” explained Albas. “But, also this calls for a stronger Conservative opposition. So, we have a greater voice on things that matter.”
Albas acknowledged his Kelowna-Lake Country Conservative counterpart Tracy Gray, who won there, defeating incumbent Liberal Stephen Fuhr.
“It’s not surprising, she put in the time and she is a community champion,” Albas said of Gray’s win.
Going forward Albas said he will continue to advocate for agreement with the Americans on softwood lumber as well as pushing the Liberal government to come to the table with the B.C. provincial government to address the lumber concerns.
“There are a lot of communities affected by the lumber issues right now and that is important,” said Albas. “Also important is protecting Lake Okanagan and working with (re-elected North Okanagan-Shuswap Conservative Mel Arnold) with his experience with Fisheries and Oceans.”
Liberal Mary Ann Murphy trailed Albas in Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola with 25 per cent of the vote, while NDP Joan Phillip came in third with 17 per cent of the vote.
Phillip acknowledged Albas’ win before all the votes were counted on Monday night.
“I have always said that it takes more than one kick at the can,” she said. “I would be missed if I didn’t take another run again. I’m committed to ensuring that people rise up, not just the one per cent.”
Despite her loss, Murphy remained upbeat and said she was proud of her campaign.
“I had a very skilled team and I probably knocked on about 10,000 doors,” she said. “We felt really comfortable that we couldn’t have done more. We feel really comfortable we talked about the issues identified by the people even though it was hard to get around this riding. But we tried our very best.”
Murphy said she there is a clear east-west divide in the seats of the House of Commons following the election.
“In the east, it’s pretty red (Liberal) and in the west it’s pretty blue (Conservative),” explained Murphy. “I think we have to look at why this divide might be and the perspective and what is the best way forward.”
Speaking to the overall Liberal minority, Murphy said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau lost a couple of very good ministers, such as Ralph Goodale in the Regina-Wascana riding in Saskatchewan.
Green Party candidate Robert Mellalieu gained more than 4,000 votes, PPC candidate Allan Duncan had just over 1,000 votes and Libertarian Jesse Regier received just over 200 votes.
About 67 per cent or 63,436 of 94,331 registered electors turned out to the polls on election day not including those who registered on Monday.
In the 2011 election, Albas received 53.59 per cent of the vote, ahead of New Democratic candidate David Finnis, Liberal John Kidder, Green Party candidate Dan Bouchard and independents Sean Upshaw and Dietrich Wittel.
In 2015, the election race was much closer.
Four years ago, Albas received 39.56 per cent of the popular vote and defeated Liberal candidate Karley Scott by just 1,458 votes. Other candidates in that election were Angelique Wood of the New Democratic Party and Mellalieu of the Green Party.