The orange wave swept over Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca as Randall Garrison helped add to the federal NDP’s sweeping gains across Canada.
A third-time candidate, Garrison came out 379 votes ahead of Conservative Troy DeSouza, also his third campaign, in another roller coaster contest. At the end of the night, it was Garrison’s 26,121 votes to DeSouza’s 25,742.
The NDP crowd roared as Garrison was declared winner. He approached the podium unfolding a speech from his jacket pocked.
“I only wrote one speech tonight, and it turned out to be the right one,” he remarked smiling.
“For the NDP nationally, I’m really proud of the positive campaign that we ran—and a positive approach is what I’m planning to take with me to Ottawa.
“It’s bitter sweet tonight: Sweet to win here, sweet at the national level for the NDP— a little bitter with the Tory majority — but they’re going to have to listen to the message of what happened tonight.”
Nationally the Conservatives swept to a clear majority with 167 seats. The NDP gained 67 seats for 107 and the Liberals suffered a collapse to 34 seats.
Garrison, an Esquimalt municipal councillor, said the NDP message resonates with voters: Protecting and improving public health care, helping families make ends meet with affordable childcare, “ships before jets, we need to keep jobs in our shipyards” support for veterans, “when we bring our troops home from Afghanistan we need to give them all the support they deserve.”
DeSouza admitted he was disappointed not to be joining Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s majority in Ottawa.
“We didn’t get the result we had hoped for tonight,” DeSouza said to roaring supporters. “But what’s good for the country is a stable majority Conservative government. I feel confident we are in good hands with our leader Stephen Harper.”
DeSouza said it’s too early to say if he’d give Esquimalt-JDF a fourth shot. The collapse of the Liberals and the rise of the NDP certainly influenced his fortunes in Monday’s vote, he said.
While Garrison was careful to avoid attacking his opponents platforms, JDF MLA John Horgan (NDP) said DeSouza wasn’t offering a broad enough campaign.
“Troy couldn’t come up with a second key on his piano,” Horgan said, referencing the Conservative candidate’s focus on an interchange at McKenzie Avenue. “Randall’s campaign—talking about sustainable transportation, supporting families—speaks to what’s important to this community … He’ll work across party lines bringing these issues to Ottawa.”
Some West Shore municipal leaders, eager for an MP within the ruling party, were disappointed at DeSouza’s loss.
Langford Mayor Stew Young said even as a private citizen, DeSouza opened doors to Conservative cabinet ministers and was instrumental in helping the city field millions in federal infrastructure grants.
“It’s an orange sweep, it’s a tough race,” Young said. “This is traditionally NDP territory (provincially). It’s a tough riding.
“I’m glad the NDP took out the separatists,” Young added. “It’s the best thing they’ve done for Canada.”
Liberal candidate Lillian Szpak came in a distant third with 6,409 votes after a dramatic drop in Liberal support across the country.
Szpak, a Langford councillor, said she is not taking the loss personally, but more as a message to the Liberal party itself.
“We are part of a sweep going across the country,” Szpak said. “I thinks it’s two extremes, very right and very left.”
Szpak will run in the municipal election this November to keep her seat at Langford council.
“Municipally you run as an individual, federally you run as an individual with a party,” Szpak said. “It’s a much larger campaign. I am thankful for my municipal experience.”