Lisa Marie Barron is both excited and apprehensive. “We’re just sitting on the edge of our seats, waiting for the results,” she says. How much sleep did she get on election night? “Maybe an hour’s worth.”
Like Barron, Conservative Tamara Kronis spent part of Tuesday cleaning her campaign office. “Cleaning is a good way to pass the time,” Kronis says.
What else can you do when the election campaign is over but the winner has yet to be declared?
If Tuesday was the day most federal election candidates finally got to gear down, to pull the figurative fork out of the light socket for the first time in 36 days, such wasn’t necessarily the case in Nanaimo-Ladysmith, where the outcome remains in doubt.
New Democrat Barron ended election night with 18,020 votes. Conservative Kronis was second with 17,031 and Green incumbent Paul Manly third with 15,286.
No winner could be declared, though, as still to be tallied are several thousand “special” ballots — mostly mail-in votes — that cannot be counted until Elections Canada verifies their legitimacy. Counting will begin (and, if all goes well, end) on Friday.
Manly wasn’t available Tuesday, though late on election night he put out a statement all but conceding that he would not be returned to office. “Even with 8,000 special ballots remaining to be counted on Friday, the current margin will be hard to overcome.”
The Greens had a tough time all over Vancouver Island. The numbers will change once all the mail-in votes are counted, but as it stands, their share of the popular vote in the Island’s seven ridings plunged from 27 per cent in 2019 to just over 14 per cent on Monday.
Even icon Elizabeth May saw her share drop from 49 to 37. In Victoria, where the Greens were just three per cent behind winning New Democrat Laurel Collins in 2019, their number sank from 30 per cent to 11.5.
New Democrats, on the other hand, hope to go from five seats to six on the Island.
But win or lose, there were still chores to perform Tuesday. “There’s an awful lot to do, even the day after,” said Lia Versaevel, the Green candidate in Cowichan-Malahat-Langford. After representing the B.C. Greens in two provincial elections and running in a regional district race, she knows the drill: Thank volunteers and supporters, call the other candidates to congratulate/commiserate, break down the campaign office.
But yeah, it’s important to decompress, too. “You have to catch your breath and say: ‘I can feel my adrenaline slowing down.’ ”
Candidates do that in different ways. “I’m cleaning my shed,” said Sabina Singh, the Saanich-Gulf Islands New Democrat who boosted her share of the vote from 2019 while criss-crossing the riding in a ‘72 Volkswagen van. “I’m enjoying being home.”
Up in Port McNeill, Conservative Shelley Downey spent the day picking up signs. “When the campaign is over, when the election is done, it takes a bit of an adjustment to change gears,” she said. After 36 days of people, platforms and policy, collecting signs is one of those things that lets you be alone with your thoughts.
Downey’s North Island-Powell River riding is another one in which there’s at least a mathematical chance of the finishing order being altered. Downey, a Port McNeill municipal councillor, ended Monday night trailing New Democrat incumbent Rachel Blaney 20,472 votes to 19,125. There were also 9,137 special ballots issued; the ones that were returned will be verified and counted this week.
It’s not just the candidates who need to wind down. On Tuesday morning, volunteers systematically broke down Victoria Liberal Nikki Macdonald’s Oak Bay Avenue campaign office.
Three teams retrieved campaign signs from around the riding. (Some signs could be used again, but a high number were vandalized, something experienced by Liberals in other ridings, too.) There were phone lines to disconnect, papers to shred, colour-coded which-party-is-strong-where wall maps to roll up for next time. By tonight, it will be hard to know they were ever there at all.
In Nanaimo, though, the election still isn’t over, even if the campaign is. That brings its own combination of peace and uncertainty. “It has been quite a mellow day,” Kronis said Tuesday. Not much you can do but wait.