The riding of West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country has again followed the nation and elected an MP in the new government.
This time, though, that government and MP have changed from blue to red. In the end, the election came down to a contest along the country’s traditional Conservative versus Liberal lines, with Liberal Pam Goldsmith-Jones elected in the riding.
She jumped out to an early lead Monday night with roughly half the vote and held on throughout the evening. With more than 50 per cent of the 246 polls reporting, she held a majority of the votes in the riding.
She credits the Liberal majority to leader Justin Trudeau and the team, including her volunteers, adding that she had 350 of them out working on election day.
“We took this seriously, we ran a positive campaign,” she told The Squamish Chief from her victory party Monday night. “In this riding, I know that people were ready for change…. People are sick and tired of the politics of division.”
During the campaign, she identified protecting the environment and strengthening the economy for middle- and lower-income Canadians, along with rebuilding infrastructure as top priorities.
On election night, she again emphasized her commitment to infrastructure investment, the environment, support for families, as well as a restored democracy, renewed federalism and sense of respect operating in Ottawa.
“Our democratic reform package is really important to people,” she said.
The incoming MP said it will also be a priority for her to sit down with local councils, First Nations and regional districts to determine which issues are closest to home for people in the riding.
“We will form that agenda,” she said.
Prior to running for the Liberals, Goldsmith-Jones was the mayor of West Vancouver for two terms but took a break from politics to run a consulting business as well as earn her MBA in aboriginal business and leadership.
Incumbent John Weston of the Conservatives had won his seat in the previous two elections with a commanding 45 per cent of the vote, but this time trailed Goldsmith-Jones all night with only about 25 per cent of the vote. During this campaign he highlighted major issues for the riding were the economy and the environment, taxes, infrastructure and legal equality.
Weston referred to the campaign as a “tale of two cities” with voters rejecting him and his party, but he suggested the support they did garner was firm.
“People who voted for us knew exactly why,” he said, citing values such as a strong economy, bravery and hope. “They appreciated the values-driven approach of our work.”
Weston congratulated Goldsmith-Jones on the win and said he would work to make sure he and his constituents create an easy transition for the MP-elect.
He cited work on private member’s bills, budget items and other initiatives as his legacy as MP and said it was a privilege to serve the riding.
“It’s a great honour. This is a very special and unique place,” he said.
Weston said he now plans to work on a book, spend more time with his family and take stock. He also said he wants to continue his work to promote equality for all Canadians, something he had started before going into politics.
At the Green Party event held at the Brackendale Art Gallery in Squamish, the 25 assembled supporters sang "For He is a Jolly Good Fellow" as candidate Ken Melamed hugged his sons and wife.
“There is really one reason and one reason only that we saw the result that we did tonight: People were desperate, they were so desperate and they were so devoid of any hope for any risk taking, they went to the safest place that they could possibly go,” Melamed said following the Liberal majority win in Canada and in the riding. “We have to respect what they chose. Obviously they chose a Liberal representative and hats off to Pam and her team, obviously they did what they needed to do – right place, right time, right circumstances.”
He added, "I have no regrets, I am really thrilled, it was a tremendous experience for me, really exciting.”
Melamed expressed hope that the Green Party would do better in the provincial election, “so hopefully all of us will do what we can to forward what we know is the most powerful movement to take back our country and to take back our planet.”
NDP candidate Larry Koopman could not be reached for comment Monday night.
As of 10 p.m., with 170 of 246 polls reporting, the results were as follows:
• Liberal Pam Goldsmith-Jones 54.7 per cent
• Conservative John Weston 26.1 per cent
• NDP Larry Koopman 10.2 per cent
• Green Ken Melamed 8.5 per cent
• Radical Marijuana Robin Kehler 0.3%
• Marxist-Leninist Carol-Lee Chapman 0.2%
Voter turnout was approximately 73 per cent, according to Elections Canada.
– With files from Jennifer Thuncher, The Squamish Chief