As the B.C. Conservatives conceded defeat in Thursday’s by-election, they also promised a fight in the next election.
The party’s candidate, John Martin, said the gains they made were strong.
“One in four people voted for us,” he said, and each vote was appreciated.
Martin arrived at his campaign headquarters, at the empty Blockbuster location in Sardis, to a round of applause about 75 minutes after polls had closed. He told supporters that while this battle may be lost, the fight is far from over. Martin said the BC Conservatives are keeping their eyes on the bigger prize.
“The public has spoken clearly that they want change,” he said. “The beneficiary of that change is the NDP … and we have no sour grapes whatsoever.”
He said the gains they were able to make in the past few months show just how far the once-down and out provincial Conservatives have come.
“We have come so far in so short a time,” he said, and they are now going to be getting ready for “the big show in 13 months.”
Martin rejected suggestions the Conservatives and Liberals split the vote.
“This is a democracy. Every vote is a split,” he tsaid “Unless you’re in North Korea.”
BC Conservative leader John Cummins met with reporters early in the evening at Martin’s campaign headquarters.
He said if the Conservatives can hold onto 20 to 25 per cent of the votes in Chilliwack-Hope, they have a good chance at success in the next general election.
“It shows we’re a solid, established, force to be reckoned with when elections come again in 13 months,” he told a mass of reporters at the Conservative headquarters.
The time between this by-election and the next election will give the revitalized party a chance to get “better organized on the ground,” he said. “I think we have come a long way in the year.”
Martin later stopped by the NDP gathering at Bravo Restaurant shortly after 10 p.m. to congratulate Gwen O’Mahony and Adrian Dix on their win.