NDP hold onto Vancouver Island ridings, as Greens fail to wrestle seats away

After 40 days of campaigning, Vancouver Island’s electoral map looks exactly the same as it did at the start of the federal election.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh’s surging popularity helped his party retain all five of its seats on the Island, while the Greens held the other two.

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But with the NDP possibly holding the balance of power in a Liberal minority government, the party’s Island MPs could have more leverage in Parliament this time around.

And the NDP’s Rachel Blaney, who secured a second term as MP for North Island-Powell River, said she’s looking forward to that possibility.

“One of the biggest challenges with the last Liberal government was that they talked a really progressive and exciting game,” she said. “But what we saw loud and clear through their actions is they like to talk about it, but they don’t like to take action.

“So for the NDP to be holding the balance of power, I really think we’re going to be able to push on the issues that matter to Canadians and get results and force them into some action.”

The NDP’s success on the Island prevented the Greens from expanding their two-seat beachhead.

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May handily won in Saanich-Gulf Islands and rookie MP Paul Manly easily held the Nanaimo-Ladysmith seat he took from the NDP in a byelection six months ago.

But it wasn’t the Green breakthrough May was hoping for, and she suggested Singh’s surge in popularity hurt them across the country, while closer to home the style of the NDP’s campaign took a toll.

“Jagmeet Singh had an unexpected bounce, they ran a good campaign at the national level; they only ran a scummy, embarrassingly low campaign on Vancouver Island,” she said, citing attack ads and flyers she claimed deliberately misquoted her and misled voters.

“The rest of the country thinks well of [the NDP] … the rest of the country didn’t see them being willing to go very, very low,” she said. “They ran a nasty campaign. They lied. They were so desperate to hang onto seats they said things that weren’t true.

“I think what the NDP did on Vancouver Island is fundamentally bad for democracy, and I hope they are not rewarded for it.”

In one of the more closely watched seats, rookie Victoria city councillor Laurel Collins fended off a challenge from Green candidate Racelle Kooy to keep the Victoria riding for the NDP.

Collins, a 35-year-old instructor at the University of Victoria, was leading Kooy by nearly 3,000 votes with 90 per cent of the polls reporting late Monday. Liberal candidate Nikki Macdonald was more than 6,000 votes behind in third place.

The NDP has held the seat since 2006, first under Denise Savoie and then Murray Rankin, who is retiring.

Collins said she, too, is looking forward to the prospect of the NDP holding the balance of power.

“It’s a very exciting time,” she said. “I think about Tommy Douglas and the incredible things he accomplished for this country in a minority government. I’m just honoured and humbled by the trust this community has put into me.”

Next door in Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke, NDP incumbent Randall Garrison, 69, held a comfortable lead over Green candidate David Merner. Garrison, a retired college instructor and the party’s defence critic, was out front by more than 4,000 votes.

Metchosin dentist Randall Pewarchuk of the Conservatives and Liberal candidate Jamie Hammond were well behind.

In Nanaimo-Ladysmith, Manly easily dispatched the NDP’s Bob Chamberlin in a re-match of their May byelection — a contest that was initiated when NDP MP Sheila Malcolmson stepped down to run provincially.

“It feels really good to be re-elected and to have the confidence and the trust of the people of Nanaimo-Ladysmith,” Manly said. “I’m going to work hard for everybody — those that didn’t vote for me and those that did.”

Elsewhere, NDP MP Alistair MacGregor retained his seat in Cowichan-Malahat-Langford, where he was leading Alana DeLong of the Conservatives by more than 5,000 votes.

In Courtenay-Alberni, New Democrat Gord Johns, who knocked off former Conservative cabinet minister John Duncan in 2015, easily held his seat.

A former Tofino councillor and executive director of the Tofino-Long Beach Chamber of Commerce, Johns was leading Conservative candidate Byron Horner by more than 6,000 votes.

In North Island-Powell River, Blaney was leading Conservative Shelley Downey by more than 3,500 votes.

— With files from Louise Dickson, Cindy E. Harnett, Roxanne Egan-Elliott and Andrew Duffy.

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