Update: Sept. 23
Elections Canada has confirmed Liberal incumbent Patrick Weiler is the winner of West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country’s seat in Parliament.
Weiler was leading Conservative John Weston by more than 2,000 votes by the end of the night on election day but there were still more than 6,000 mail-in ballots yet to be counted.
As of 4 p.m. on Thursday, all remaining ballots had been counted and Weiler was confirmed the winner.
Weiler finished with 21,470 ballots – a popular vote of 33.8 per cent. Weston’s final count was 19,062 or 30 per cent overall.
The NDP’s Avi Lewis tally was 16,262 – 25.6 per cent overall. The Green Party’s Mike Simpson totalled 4,113 votes (6.5 per cent) and the People’s Party’s Doug Bebb netted 2,306 (3.6 per cent).
According to Elections Canada, 64.56 per cent of the riding’s 98,256 registered voters cast ballots (although that number does not include voters who registered for the first time at their polling station).
Original story below:
All three North Shore Liberal incumbent MPs are projected to keep their seats and return to Ottawa under a second minority government led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
By far, the closest of the North Shore races was in West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country, where leading candidates did not even expect to have a winner declared on election night.
After a “pins and needles” night and only a narrow gap between Liberal Patrick Weiler and Conservative John Weston, CBC News called the race for Weiler around 10:30 p.m., even with 6,130 mail-in ballots left to be counted.
“Of course it's never official until it's official but it does feel very, very good, and I think it shows that hard work pays off, running an honest campaign pays off,” Weiler said.
As of Tuesday morning, with 257 of 258 polls counted, Weiler had 19,424 votes or 34 per cent overall. Weston had 17,247 votes or 30 per cent. The NDP’s Avi Lewis had netted 14,833 votes (25 per cent) while the Green Party’s Mike Simpson and People’s Party’s Doug Bebb trailed at 3,850 votes (seven per cent) and 2,178 votes (four per cent), respectively.
Elections Canada has told the candidates the mail-in ballots won’t be counted until Wednesday or Thursday but Weiler said he believes his margin will only grow, in part because so many university students voted by mail when voting on campus was not an option.
“From what I understand from some of the exit polls done, people that did mail-in ballots are four times more likely to vote Liberal than Conservative. So, if it's close, and it comes to mail-in ballots, I'd be more confident,” he said.
The vote does make political history in the riding – it’s the first time a Liberal candidate has been re-elected there. Weiler credited his campaign staff and volunteers for the feat.
“I'm just so proud of what our team accomplished,” he said.
Weiler said he had no qualms about sitting in another minority government, which he predicted will be productive with a fresh mandate when the new government is sworn in.
“We do have a lot of common ground with the Bloc, with the NDP, with the Greens and I've developed some great friendships and working relationships over that time,” he said. “I think this does kind of reset the clock and we'll be able to kind of get things unstuck and get things done again.”
Weiler also acknowledged the strength of his competitors in the race, and promised to represent their supporters in Parliament as well.
“I didn't get 100 per cent of the vote. I am now the MP for everybody, even people that didn't vote for me,” he said. “That is a challenge that I take very seriously and a responsibility that I take very seriously. And I'm just really excited to be able to get back to work.”
Speaking to his supporters after the polls closed, Weston praised his volunteers for helping to knock on three times as many doors in the riding as the last Tory candidate did. He also commented on the Conservatives’ platform as being the best, most compassionate and environmentally progressive one he’d even seen.
He also commended his opponents for their respectful campaigns.
Weston said he was “forlorn” knowing the next government whould be another Liberal minority.
“As people said time and again, this was an unnecessary election call in COVID when the country should have been focusing on other matters. I think it was very ill advised and selfish, and history will suggest that this was not a legacy moment for a prime minister,” he said. “It concerns me that erodes respect for the institution of prime minister. … A leader should be a healer and a unifier. This unnecessary election was not healing or unifying.”
Lewis said he was pleased with the NDP’s showing, doubling their 2019 vote share and setting a personal best in the riding.
“I said that it was always an uphill battle for the NDP in this riding in a first-time campaign, and that we're building something. And I committed from the very beginning to run at least in two cycles,” he said. “As I go out and pick up signs and anxiously await the mail-in ballot results and do all of the wrap-up things for a really fast and big campaign, I’m feeling extremely buoyant.”
For the Greens, the result was devastating – receiving only a third of the vote they did in 2019. It reflected a wider collapse in their popular vote share, nationally.
“It's pretty obvious, I think, that we have some strong leadership and internal issues that we have to be able to face. We're an opinionated lot. There's no doubt about that but at some point, we also have to have the discipline to have some unity and work with leaders and so on,” Simpson said.
Since 2004, the riding has only ever been held by the Liberals and Conservatives minus a brief stint in 2007-'08 when MP Blair Wilson was forced to quit the Liberal caucus amid a scandal. Weston served two terms with the Conservatives, from 2008 until 2015 when he was defeated by former mayor of West Vancouver Pamela Goldsmith-Jones. Weiler won in 2019 with 34.89 per cent of the vote. The Conservatives finished a little over eight points back, with 26.71 per cent.
With files from Keili Bartlett, Coast Reporter