The BC Liberals not only easily won their two Langley seats on Tuesday night, but they handily won a majority government that virtually all pollsters and pundits said wasn’t possible.
Deputy premier Rich Coleman, who chaired the BC Liberal campaign, was cautious as early returns came in at his campaign headquarters in Walnut Grove, but as it became clear that the Liberals were winning seats that had been held by the NDP, he was elated.
“This was the rest of B.C. telling the Lower Mainland, ‘we matter,’” he said.
“The interior of B.C. stepped up for us tonight.”
Coleman easily won his seat of Fort Langley-Aldergrove. He had 14,533 votes to NDP candidate Shane Dyson’s 6,700.
Rick Manuel of the Conservatives got 2,353 votes, Lisa David of the Greens received 1,957 and independent Kevin Mitchell had 619 votes.
Coleman said Premier Christy Clark ran an unbelievably strong campaign and focused relentlessly on the economy. He said that message resonated with voters in the Interior, who feared a decline in resource jobs under the NDP.
It also resonated in many areas of the Lower Mainland, with the Liberals winning five seats that had been held by the NDP, including seats in Coquitlam, Maple Ridge, Surrey and Chilliwack.
The Liberals lost two seats they had held in Vancouver, including the premier’s own riding of Vancouver-Point Grey.
When asked about his defeat, Dyson was very diplomatic.
“I wish Rich the best of luck over the next four years. He’s proven himself to be a very good advocate for this area. Though he and I don’t agree on many things, he has served this community very well and I really wish him the best of luck in this.”
Coleman had said all along that the BC Liberals had a fighting chance with Clark as premier and the face of the campaign.
“I really believed she could pull this off. She is the first woman elected to serve as premier in this province,” he said. “She is a great role model for young women in B.C. She’s a good campaigner and a much better leader than others give her credit for.”
Coleman took delight in the polls being so far off.
“Anybody who would hire Ipsos-Reid or Angus Reid to do a poll should save their money,” he said. “The message (from voters) was all about the economy.
“The rest of B.C. was telling the Lower Mainland that we help pay for education and health, and you shouldn’t forget that. Vancouver is dependent on resources, mining and the port.”
Resources are responsible for thousands of jobs here. When times are tough, people don’t want to see a change. The province has done remarkably well. The voters are smarter than pollsters and pundits give them credit for.”
Coleman expects there will be a lot for him to do in the new government. He has been the point man on LNG development, as minister of energy, and he intends to spread the word to investors that B.C. is open for business.
“Billions (of dollars) have been sitting on the sidelines, waiting for the results of this election. B.C. is about to have four golden years.”
As he made his way to the Liberal victory party in Vancouver Tuesday night, Coleman received three calls from investors who were anxious about the results, and are ready to invest in major projects in B.C.
He expects that hearings on the Northern Gateway pipeline will proceed, and said that neither it nor the expansion of Kinder Morgan will go ahead until they have received environmental approval, First Nations support and met the other conditions that Clark had set out for pipeline projects.
Commenting on the premier’s loss of her seat, Coleman said that Clark will have to find a seat, but will wait until the final voting results are in. There are still lots of votes outstanding as a result of voters who voted in other ridings. They are the last to be counted.
Asked what his local priorities will be, Coleman said he wants to see planning money for a new Willoughby high school come soon. He said one of the biggest issues he kept hearing about was the state of the economy and the importance of creating jobs.
‘People were very passionate about it,” he said.
— with files from Miranda Gathercole and Dan Ferguson