Photo Credit: ComoxValley.News staff

The Orange Tide Floods VanIsle

Elizabeth May was the spoiler, as the incumbent held onto Saanich-Gulf Islands for the beleaguered Green Party

A few remaining tight races is all that stands between the NDP and a near sweep of Vancouver Island

Popular NDP politician Gord Johns has been elected to a third term as MP for Courtenay-Alberni. Though Conservative candidate Mary Lee held a brief lead early in the returns,  Johns started to walk away with it as more polls reported.

Late yesterday, with all but one of the 269 polls reporting (99.63 percent), Johns held a 7,413-vote lead, accounting for 43.9 percent of the votes, followed by Lee with 19,696 votes (31.9 percent) and Liberal Sue Farlinger, with 8,162 votes (13.2 percent).

While celebrating last night at his Port Alberni campaign office, Johns called it a tough campaign due to COVID-19 and the challenges of keeping his volunteers safe.

“[The New Democrats] win on the ground, we win at the grassroots level,” Johns said in a Black Press story. “Engaging constituents one-on-one in conversations about issues that matter with them. So we’ve had to use different vehicles—a lot of phone calls, a lot of different ways of doing our regular engagement.”

In a Facebook post, Johns thanked his family for their “support and sacrifice,” and vowed to get back to work after taking a few post-campaign days of rest.

“Whether you voted for me or one of my opponents, I promise to continue listening carefully to your concerns and seek your ideas,” Johns said.

Meanwhile, in the North Island-Powell River riding, the NDP’s Rachel Blaney was fighting off a strong challenge from Conservative Shelley Downey, who also came close in the 2109 federal election. As of Tuesday, Blaney held a 1300 vote lead. But with more than 9,000 special ballots still to be counted, the incumbent wasn’t ready to crack the champagne.

It’s even more of a nail-biter in Nanaimo-Ladysmith. The day after the election, Green Party incumbent Paul Manly was left crossing his fingers and hoping that the 8000 to 9000 special ballots still to be counted would boost him to the top from third place. That’s where he was sitting behind political newcomer and Conservative candidate Tamara Kronis and the NDP’s Lisa Marie Baron, who had less than a 1000-vote hold on first place.

If Baron and Blaney manage to retain their leads, it will be a virtual orange-tide sweep of  Vancouver Island for the NDP, except for a tiny fringe of green in the south where in Saanich-Gulf Islands, Green Party incumbent Elizabeth May demolished her nearest rival, Conservative candidate David Busch, by more than 8000 votes.