The BC Liberals have reclaimed the Chilliwack-Hope riding.
Laurie Throness will join a majority Liberal government in Victoria – something few pundits were expecting before the polls closed Tuesday evening.
Despite an early lead, incumbent Gwen O’Mahony finished nearly 15 per cent behind Throness, capturing only 6,884 of the votes cast, compared to Throness’ 9,533.
For O’Mahony, the sting of the loss was evident. As supporters watched hopes of a majority NDP government fade, she reflected on her loss. “We respect what the electorate had to say and who they wanted to represent them. So, I congratulate Laurie Throness,” said O’Mahony, who won the riding last April in a byelection.
“This was a difficult place to be in. Over the year of being MLA, people talked as if I was going to be around forever. As a politician you have to face the fact that you might lose.”
She said she’s proud of what her team has accomplished.
“We had such wonderful goals if we had formed government that I think are still very important. Now is not the time to feel badly,” said O’Mahony. “I believed in the message of change for the better. We’re not going to give up hope at all.”
The mood at the Liberal headquarters was decidedly different.
“I feel humbled that Chilliwack-Hope has placed its confidence in me and I will not disappoint them,” said a beaming Throness. “It’s a humbling and very proudful experience for me. It is a good thing to taste the sweet taste of victory.”
Throness acknowledged that there was some dissatisfaction last year during the byelection, which resulted in a split in the right-wing vote. He said the Liberal leadership took note, and wrote its platform to correct those issues.
BC Conservative Michael Henshall finished third with 11 per cent. Despite the loss, Henshall said he remains committed to helping build the party.
“We are a grassroots party provincially,” he said, as early numbers trickled in. “But we’ve doubled our presence since 2009. I have a resolve to see a Conservative party established in this province.”
Finishing fourth in the riding was independent candidate Ryan McKinnon with four per cent of the vote. The Hope resident said he’s grateful for the support he received and felt his rough around the edges approach resonated with voters.
“It’s not as polished. People can relate,” said McKinnon. “Running for the first time, having no signage and having not a lot of publicity, I was quite happy with the result.”
As a major champion for child protection reform, he hopes to be included in a review of the Ministry of Children and Family Development. He feels there’s currently a lot of inefficiencies and unnecessary spending.
“Laurie [Throness] said to me at the Boston Bar all-candidates meeting that ‘if we get in to a majority government and I get elected, I will make sure you’re in Victoria if we do have a look at the MCFD and we’ll listen to your ideas,’” he added.
Preliminary voting results show a total 19,292 ballots were cast in the riding.
Gwen O’Mahony BC NDP 6,884 35.68%
Laurie Throness BC Liberal Party 9,533 49.41%