Norm Macdonald will be returning to the British Columbia legislature as a member of the opposition after winning re-election in Columbia River–Revelstoke, only to watch his party suffer a defeat province-wide on Tuesday.
Macdonald’s victory was narrower in the past. With almost all ballot boxes counted, he was at 48.2 per cent support, compared to 36.4 per cent for the Liberal candidate Doug Clovechok. Conservative Earl Olsen picked up 8.6 per cent of the vote and Green Party candidate Laurel Ralston had 6.8 per cent of the vote.
Madonald was watching the results of the 2013 provincial election at his home office in Golden, surrounded by supporters and well wishers. He declared himself “profoundly disappointed” at the results of the evening, though he was grateful for his support in Columbia River-Revelstoke.
“We ran a low-cost, volunteer-based campaign and we spoke the truth. It was a respectful campaign,” Macdonald said, thanking all of the people who came out to help with his campaign, and saying the victory could not have happened without them.
Despite the disappointment at remaining in Opposition, Macdonald says his job remains the same – to fight for the constituents of Columbia River–Revelstoke.
“My job is to fight for seniors, for the land, for the youth in our communities, and I will take that fight to Victoria,” he said.
On the provincial level, he is baffled by the night’s results.
“It’s a surprise to me. I expected people would see through what the Liberals were saying,” he said. “Unfortunately, the lesson learned is that to be exceedingly negative and personal will be rewarded. We passed up that opportunity both locally and provincially. It doesn’t bode well for the process going forward, or for rational, fact-based debate.”
Clovechok also had to digest bittersweet results. While he did not take the riding, his party did far better than expected and he was quick to give the credit to Premier Christy Clark.
“I am absolutely thrilled with the results provincially,” he said. “Christy Clark is a master campaigner and obviously, the people of B.C. didn’t want the NDP anywhere near government.”
Conservative candidate Olsen had a strong showing that saw him receive more than 1,000 votes.
“Obviously, it did not goes as well as I would have hoped it would go for us, but at the same time I think overall for a start up, we did well,” he said. “I don’t think there is any doubt when looking at the numbers that we turned it in to a three-party race. We did not help the Liberals efforts in the area,” Olsen said.
Olsen was quick to praise Macdonald for his victory. “My message to him is congratulations. He ran a great campaign and I enjoyed campaigning with him and against him. He is a gentlemen.”
There were big smiles at Liberal Party headquarters in Revelstoke as Clark led the party to an unexpected majority in the British Columbia legislature, even though local candidate Clovechok lost.
At the office on First Street, party supporters watched on Global News as results Liberal support holding steady from 2009 and the party winning another majority in government.
“I’m pleased the way Christy handled her whole campaign. It started out rough but now we’ve closed and we can see the work paid off,” said Peter Bernacki, the vice-president of the Columbia River-Revelstoke Liberal Riding Association.
At NDP headquarters just down the block, the mood was very different as the early returns showed the Liberals leading province-wide and stayed that way throughout the night until a majority was declared by the major media outlets.
“Obviously we’re really pleased that Norm’s got re-elected. On the other hand we’re dissapointed with the provincial results,” said Bill Macfarlane, the NDP campaign chair in Revelstoke. He attributed the Liberals victory to the “politics of nasty.”
“Which is really sad I think,” he said. “It basically means if you’re a bully, you win.”
The mood at Clovechok’s campaign headquarters in Invermere on election night was a mixed bag of excitement at Clark’s majority win and disappointment that Clovechok was not among the Liberal MLAs elected.
As the returns from the polls came in, Macdonald took a significant lead. Liberal supporters and volunteers at Clovechok’s office were quick to point out that the vote difference between the two parties was closer than in the last election.
“You sure had him (Macdonald) scared,” said one Liberal volunteer, who was heading home for the evening.
But in the end, a narrower loss is still a loss, according to Clovechok.
“Whether it’s 10,000 votes or whether it’s one vote, it doesn’t matter,” said Clovechok, congratulating Mr. Macdonald and adding he was happy the campaign stayed respectful.
Now that the election is over, Clovechok said he hopes that Macdonald realizes he has to make sure he continues to represent the people in the district.
“We are going to hold Mr. Macdonald’s feet to the fire. The people in Columbia River-Revelstoke spoke, and they decided to keep the NDP in this riding, which means yet again it is a riding that does not have a member of the government,” Clovechok said.
Macdonald said that fight will start right away with many items on the agenda when he gets back to Victoria, even though he is once again on the opposition side of the house.
“The people here have chosen me as their representative, and we will hold them (the BC Liberals) to an account. We will fight to make sure this area is strongly represented.”
UPDATE: 10:52 p.m.
UPDATE: 10:45 a.m.
Final preliminary numbers are in for Columbia River–Revelstoke
Columbia River–Revelstoke incumbent MLA Norm Macdonald (NDP) holds riding with (48.18%/6,019 votes) over BC Liberal candidate Doug Clovechok (36.37%/4,543 votes), then BC Conservatives Earl Olsen (8.64%/1,079 votes) and Green Party Laurel Olsen (6.81%/851 votes). 12,492 votes were cast, down from 13,520 in 2009 when only 56% cast ballots.
With files from the Golden Star, Invermere Valley Echo and Kimberley Daily Bulletin