Cathy McLeod rolled to victory in Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo on election night, dominating the polls as she entered her fourth term as Conservative MP.
McLeod’s percentage of the vote was 45 per cent, a marked increase from the 35 per cent share she collected when winning in 2015.
Liberal candidate Terry Lake finished second, with 27 per cent of the vote. NDP candidate Cynthia Egli was third with 14 per cent of the vote, followed by Green candidate Iain Currie, at 12 per cent.
The remaining three candidates were Ken Finlayson of the People’s Party (1.6 per cent), Kira Cheeseborough of the Animal Protection Party (0.4 per cent) and Peter Kerek of the Community Party (0.2 per cent).
Nationally, the Liberals won the election, but have a minority government, their 157 seats 13 short of majority status. The Conservatives won 121 seats, followed by the Bloc Quebecois (32 seats), NDP (24 seats) and Green (three seats). Former Liberal attorney-general Jodi Wilson-Raybould was the lone Independent elected.
The Liberals entered the election with 177 seats (a loss of 20), the Conservatives entered with 95 seats (a gain of 26), the Bloc entered with 10 (a gain of 22 seats), the NDP entered with 39 (a loss of 15) and the Greens entered with two seats (a gain of one seat).
The Conservatives received the most votes nationally, tallying 6.16 million ballots (34 per cent), while the Liberals trailed with 5.92 million votes (33 per cent).
Shortly after 9:30 p.m. on Monday, Lake walked into McLeod’s Seymour Street campaign office with foggy specs to offer congratulations. He called it a “great win” and thanked volunteers.
“You had me worried,” McLeod told Lake, noting his political resume and calling him “big competition.”
“I think we tried to keep things respectful,” she said.
In an interview, Lake said he was surprised by the wide margin by which he was defeated, but said he doesn’t know what he could have done differently during the campaign. Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau came to Kamloops three times this year, but the riding has not gone red in more than four decades.
Does it mark the end of Lake’s political career?
“That’s a good question,” he said. “I would say likely, but I would say that you never know what will come next. But for now, yeah.”
In a highly anticipated moment — McLeod sat firmly in her chair most of the night taking in the results with the arm of her glasses in and out of her mouth, dodging reporters’ questions — the fourth-term MP finally addressed supporters.
McLeod cited months of campaign planning with hard work behind the scenes from family, longtime campaign manager Deborah Petersmeyer and volunteers.
Calling it an “interesting election” with seven candidates, McLeod said that despite differences of opinion, the campaign locally remained respectful.
That could certainly not be said of the leadership race, with her Conservative leader Andrew Scheer being accused of running a negative campaign.
Asked if she deliberately tried to differentiate herself, McLeod said she and Lake have worked together for a long time and respect each other.
McLeod told supporters voters have sent a message in electing a minority Liberal government.
“Clearly he [Prime Minister Justin Trudeau] has been given a bit of a short leash by the electorate,” she said.
“But we also have to look at the electoral map and think about what we can do in this country that will keep us together, that will keep us strong.
“If you look at the West and you look at the province of British Columbia, as an example, that rely on forestry, rely on energy, the blue is very solid. If you look at some of our more urban areas, the Liberals are more solid. We have a fantastic country and what we need to do is say, ‘OK, there’s some worries out there, there’s some challenges.’
“And every single one of the 338 parliamentarians who were elected tonight need to figure out how to keep our country beautiful, how to keep our country strong and how to keep our country together.”
About two-dozen people were on hand at McLeod’s campaign office watching the results through the night, with others trickling in after her win.
Lindael Rolstone of Kamloops said she was happy with the results locally, but not federally. Echoing disappointment with Scheer’s failure to defeat Trudeau, Barriere couple Kathy Campbell and Bryan Smith said they were “flabbergasted.”
“I’m kind of really disappointed,” Campbell said. “The Liberals have literally wrecked this country. They’ve bankrupt it.”
Asked if Scheer should step down, McLeod replied: “Absolutely not. As we say, tonight we need to reflect on the lessons that we have learned from the electorate in terms of what that map looks like and what colours are where and how we move forward.”
The Conservative Party has lost two elections in a row to the Liberals, but McLeod said she saw victory in the party’s seat increase.
“You say it’s a loss, I say it’s a win,” she said.
“Again, if you look at what, after 2015, people were predicting it would be years and years and years before things would change. I see a gain of 20-plus seats, a return in the Maritimes, so I see it as a win.”
Moments earlier, Lake addressed supporters at the Delta Hotel on Victoria Street.
“I feel like I let you down,” he said. “You know what, we worked hard and what I’ve learned in politics is that the voter is never wrong.”
He urged his supporters to get behind McLeod as she represents the riding and ensure she fights for the various interests in Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo.
Egli told KTW she is sad to have lost, but wasn’t really expecting to win.
“I think we did really well and we were against two top people,” Egli said, noting the strong competition in Lake and McLeod.
Currie finished fourth, but managed to dramatically boost his party’s vote share from 2015 — to 13 per cent from 3.6 per cent.
Currie was asked how the result failed to live up to the noise being made by local Green campaign, which had volunteers boldly predicting victory on social media.
“I have no idea. We did everything we could,” Currie said.
“Climate change was a major issue we heard about, but it seems like Canadians are content with what they have.”
The People’s Party was a bust across the nation, with leader Maxime Bernier losing his Quebec seat and the party garnering only 1.6 per cent of the national vote.
Locally, candidate Ken Finlayson mirrored that percentage, at 1.5 per cent.