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 became 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. 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 unbelievable 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.
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 a lot of things, he has served this community very well and I really wish him the best of luck in this.”
In Langley, Mary Polak easily won her third term, by a very solid margin. Polak had 12,694 votes, well ahead of Andrew Mercier of the NDP, who had 6,573 votes. BC Conservative Party leader John Cummins has 2,897 votes, or about 12 per cent of the vote. Wally Martin of the Green Party had 2,298 votes.
Polak, a former pollster herself, said she had a “gut instinct” that the outcome might not be an NDP victory.
“I think that what happened is that campaigns matter and at the end of the day, it’s not polls that decide elections, it’s voters who decide an election.”
Langley MP Mark Warawa and Township Councillor Grant Ward were among those who attended what turned out to be a victory celebration at a local pub, both for Polak and for her party.
Mercier emerged from a back room at his campaign office long enough to concede defeat and congratulate Polak for working hard to win.
His campaign manger, Alec Stromdahl, said people at the office were expecting to celebrate a provincial victory if not necessarily a Langley win for the party.
“I think probably everyone was a little shocked,” Stromdahl said.
Cummins said the Liberal win was more about fear of an NDP government than an endorsement of Christy Clark and the Liberals.
Despite being shut out at the polls, Cummins said he intended to continue as leader, at least until the next party convention.
He predicted the Conservatives would be a stronger contender in the next provincial election.
“This isn’t a one-shot affair,” Cummins told reporters at his campaign office.
Langley City Mayor Peter Fassbender is going to Victoria as well. The final election night count gave the Surrey-Fleetwood BC Liberal candidate 8,201 votes to 7,936 for NDP incumbent Jagrup Brar.
Fassbender had said he plans to resign as mayor of the City if he won his provincial seat.
Another high-profile candidate with Langley connections, Langley RCMP Insp. Amrik Virk, won the Surrey-Tynehead seat for the BC Liberals, with 8,425 votes to 6,925 for NDP candidate Avtar Bains.
—with files from Miranda Gathercole and Dan Ferguson