Election 2015: NDP’s Wayne Stetski takes Kootenay-Columbia

NDP candidate Wayne Stetski takes Kootenay-Columbia in vote that came down to wire.

Wayne Stetski is the new MP for Kootenay-Columbia.

Wayne Stetski is the new MP for Kootenay-Columbia.

Wayne Stetski has pulled off a historic upset, unseating Conservative David Wilks to win the riding of Kootenay-Columbia for the NDP for the first time ever following a tense election night that saw the vote go right down to the wire.

It’s the first time the NDP has won Revelstoke’s riding since Lyle Christiansen took the former riding of Kootenay West-Revelstoke in 1998.

Stetski won following a wild poll count that saw the vote swing back-and-forth between him and Wilks. The CBC even called the riding for Wilks, but the final vote tally put Stetski up a mere 285 votes out of more than 63,000 cast in the riding.

The results were:

Wayne Stetski, NDP – 23,529 (37.2 per cent)

David Wilks, Conservative – 23,244 (36.8 per cent)

Don Johnston, Liberal – 12,315 (19.5 per cent)

Bill Green, Green – 4,115 (6.5 per cent)

Wilks delivered a concession speech at his campaign headquarters in Cranbrook after the final vote count came in.

63,203 people voted, not including those who registered on election day. Voter turnout was almost 74 per cent – far higher than the 63 per cent turnout in 2011.

Stetski will now head to Ottawa as a member of the third party in Parliament.

Justin Trudeau led the Liberal Party to a surprising majority, while the Conservatives will serve as the official opposition. The NDP seat total shrank by more than half as it lost votes and seats across the country to the Liberals.

Stephen Harper will resign as Prime Minister and leader of the Conservatives.

The Conservative vote decreased by almost 3,000 since 2011 in Kootenay-Columbia, despite the higher turnout and bigger riding this time around. The Liberal Party was rejuvenated, with Johnston bringing more than 10,000 new voters to the party. The NDP vote went up by about 3,000, while the Green Party vote increased by about 1,000.

The election results mirror those of a riding poll conducted by Environics for LeadNow in September. That poll put the Stetski and Wilks tied at 37 per cent. Neither party was able to increase their support since then, with the bulk of undecided voters falling to the Liberals.

In Nelson, Liberal Party supporters were jubilant over their parties success in the national election.

“I’m feeling absolutely blown away and happy,” a tearful Johnston said at a party at Nelson’s Hume Hotel. “I got my Canada back. When I did my nomination speech in this very hotel the title was ‘I want my Canada back’ and I’m so happy to have my Canada back. The possibilities are limitless and for the last nine years we’ve done nothing but limit them. It’s so nice to be free of that weight.”

Bill Green believed his party was hurt by strategic voting.

“Absolutely, strategic voting beat us up very, very badly,” he said on election night.. “So many people say the Green Party is the party they’d like to vote for, and they’ll vote for us next time. Unfortunately that doesn’t work. We have to build, and we can’t build if we’re fighting that all the time.”

Stay tuned for reaction from Stetski and Wilks.

With files from the Nelson Star and Cranbrook Daily Townsman

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