New Chilliwack-Hope MLA Gwen O'Mahony (centre) celebrates her victory with B.C. NDP leader Adrian Dix and MLA Carole James during the byelection on Thursday night at Bravo Restaurant.

New Chilliwack-Hope MLA Gwen O'Mahony (centre) celebrates her victory with B.C. NDP leader Adrian Dix and MLA Carole James during the byelection on Thursday night at Bravo Restaurant.

UPDATE: NDP wins in Chilliwack-Hope

O'Mahony finishes first, Throness second and Martin third in Chilliwack-Hope byelection



Kerrie-Ann Schoenit, Jessica Peters, Robert Freeman

Black Press

NDP candidate Gwen O’Mahony has won the Chilliwack-Hope byelection.

The NDP garnered 41.19 per cent of the vote, followed by Liberal Laurie Throness with 31.39 per cent, BC Conservative John Martin with 25.32, and Libertarian Lewis Clarke Dahlby with 2.10. The total number of ballots was 14,000.

“I’m overjoyed and completely honoured to be voted in as the next MLA for this area,” said O’Mahony, to a large crowd of NDP supporters that packed into Bravo Restaurant on Thursday night. “I’m humbled by the amount of support. It was exciting to see that we started out strong in the polls and maintained it.”

O’Mahony pointed out that her journey to victory started three years when she first ran for the NDP in Chilliwack-Hope. Since then she’s been inspired by former federal NDP leader Jack Layton, who was elected as an MP on his third campaign.

“I carried his message of not giving up despite what you’re being told,” said O’Mahony. “I’ve got a year and a bit to show myself and prove myself. I know that trust and respect is something that is earned and not given away. I can’t wait to get to work for this wonderful community.”

Looking ahead, O’Mahony said her first priority will be trying to establish an office in Hope and Chilliwack to increase accessibility with constituents.

O’Mahony was joined by provincial NDP Leader Adrian Dix, who noted the byelection was about presenting positive ideas and respecting voters.

“Here in Chilliwack-Hope you’re going to see a change in representation. You’re going to see someone who fights for the people of this community,” he said. “We ran ran a positive campaign about things that mattered to people, like training for young people, appropriate and respectful care for seniors, and a better economy with better jobs.”

Martin conceded defeat just before 9:30 p.m. He later stopped by the NDP gathering at Bravo Restaurant shortly after 10 p.m. to congratulate O’Mahony and Dix on their win.

Earlier, 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 told supporters at campaign headquarters, just over an hour after polls closed. “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.”

But former Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon MP Chuck Strahl, no stranger to conservative in-fighting at the federal level, said “it’s not like the BC Conservatives are on a roll” and have supplanted the BC Liberals as the voice of conservative voters.

“They came in third – there’s a message there,” he said.

He said small-c conservatives must find a way to heal the divisions between the two parties, or face more NDP victories.

“It’s got to be done or else the NDP will consistently get 40-45 per cent of the vote and they will win,” he said.

BC Liberal candidate Laurel Throness agreed.

“There has to be a coalition or else we will get the NDP and perhaps this (byelection loss) is a demonstration, an object lesson for the rest of B.C., about what happens when you split the vote,” he said.

“Perhaps it might spur some kind of a unity movement. I hope it does.”

Throness also urged the government to continue its free-enterprise policies in order to win the next provincial election.

“We are the party that led they way to a balanced budgets and to lower taxes in Canada, good health and social programs,” he said. “I think the people of B.C. will affirm that in May, 2013.”

Just Posted

Dancers from the Sts’ailes First Nation perform the eagle dance at a welcome banner dedication ceremony on Thursday, June 10. “Ey Swayel” is a Halq̓eméylem term translated as ‘a good day.’ (Adam Louis/Observer)
VIDEO: ‘A good day’ for Agassiz school as Sts’ailes welcome banner is dedicated

Banner hangs above the school’s entrance, welcoming students, staff and visitors

UFV athletes were honoured for their strength and perseverance during the pandemic. (UFV photo)
Fraser Valley athletes recognized in year without sports

UFV Cascades athletes honoured for strength shown during the pandemic

Missing Abbotsford man Adam Hobbs was found deceased on Thursday evening (June 17).
Body of missing Abbotsford man Adam Hobbs found

Hobbs was reported missing Monday after leaving his job site in Langley

A tenant walks in front of her home on Boundary Road on Friday, June 18, 2021 after it was destroyed by fire the night before in Chilliwack. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Chilliwack family homeless after fire rips through house on Abbotsford border

Turtle rescued, no one seriously hurt following Boundary Road fire in Chilliwack

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Trutch Avenue in Chilliwack to be renamed to remove racist taint

New name to have Indigenous significance as Chilliwack takes new step toward reconciliation

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

Three in four eligible Canadians now have their first dose, nearly one in five fully vaccinated.

Most Read