Tuesday, October 20, 2015

In a wave of Red across the country, Skeena-Bulkley Valley remained Very Orange

NDP MP Nathan Cullen returns to
Ottawa with a significant margin of
victory from Skeena-Bulkley Valley
While the rest of Canada may have turned its electoral backs on the New Democratic Party, the majority of the voters in Skeena-Bulkley Valley remained true to their MP, sending Nathan Cullen back to Ottawa for his fifth political journey to the nation's capital.

The final results from Election Day across the Northwest probably were not a surprise to anyone, whether in British Columbia or at NDP HQ in Ottawa, with the incumbent Cullen favoured to retain his seat and quickly into the count on Monday that seat seemed more than secure.

With Skeena-Bulkley Valley being one of those ridings that the NDP considers one of its safest seats and on a night where Justin Trudeau watched riding after riding turn Liberal Red, the rolling support stopped fairly quickly at the Northern BC border.

With 51.2 per cent of the vote, Mr. Cullen collected some 22,303 votes on the night, 11,545 votes more than his next nearest competitor Conservative Tyler Nesbitt who claimed 24.7 percent support with 10,758 votes. 

Coming in third on the evening was Liberal Brad Layton who while showing some significant progress for the Liberal brand in the Northwest, was not able to capture the success of the national narrative of his party and its leader, receiving 8,158 or 18.7 per cent of the vote from across the Northwest.

Green Party Candidate Jeannie Parnell received 3.6 percent support at 1,575 votes, while the CHP's Don Spratt received 770 votes or 1.8 per cent on the night. 

Of the 63,459 eligible voters in the riding, 43,564 cast a ballot on Monday, a voting turnout of 68.65 percent.

That number is a significant improvement from 2011, when only 35,237 voters or 58.86 percent of eligible voters went to a polling station.

Elections Canada results from Monday's vote in
Skeena-Bulkley Valley

(click to expand)

The increased voter participation for 2015 offers up  an interesting comparison to the numbers from the last election of 2011.

While Mr. Cullen cruised to a victory once again and received more votes this time around than in 2011,  his percentage share of the total vote actually fell by nearly 4 percent  ( 2011-- 19,431 -- 55%) ( 2015 -- 22,303 -- 51%)

Mr. Nesbitt's share of the vote however declined significantly as a result of that increased voter turn out from four years ago, back when Clay Harmon was the Conservative candidate. ( 2011 -- 12,555 -- 35%) (2015 -- 10,758 -- 24.7 %)

Liberal Brad Layton benefited the most from that surge of voters and decline in support for the Conservatives, besting the Liberal party numbers from four years ago by close to 7,000 voters  (2011 -- 1,266 -- 4%) ( 2015 -- 8,158 -- 18.7%)

Jeannie Parnell increased the Green Party count slightly upwards from four years ago  (2011 -- 1,098 -- 3%) (2015 1,575 -- 3.6%)

While Don Spratt saw the CHP vote count decline from the last election (2011 -- 1,044 -- 2.5%) (2015-- 770 -- 1.8%)

As the 2015 campaign came to its end on Monday evening, Skeena-Bulkley Valley ran against the national trend and remained part of the strong pattern of NDP support that finds their most loyal base of voters located from Smithers to the North Coast, across to Haida Gwaii and on to Vancouver Island.

A core group that at times seems unshakeable in its devotion to the NDP message.

While the Liberals collected a large number of seats in the larger urban areas of Vancouver and a couple of seats into the southern interior, they did not make a breakthrough in these key coastal NDP strongholds.

That remains an area of the province which will send a fair share of the new NDP caucus back to Ottawa to try and pick up the pieces from a campaign that six weeks ago some had thought was theirs for the taking.

Now returned to third party status in the House of Commons, the NDP and Mr. Cullen will have to adjust to a lesser spotlight in the national dialogue, a reduction in media attention and perhaps at some point down the road a new leadership campaign.

That is of course, should the party determine that a new course of action is required as the next four years of the new Trudeau government move forward

For the Northwest, how Mr. Trudeau approaches some of the key issues for the region will shape much of the economic future for the area in the years to come, clearly his agenda is significantly different than that of the now defeated Prime Minster Stephen Harper.

How Mr. Trudeau's vision ahead will impact on the communities from Smithers to Haida Gwaii will be something for both local and provincial elected officials and the returned MP to keep an eye on. Prepared to speak out on our behalf, as the new government seeks to find its feet and shape its agenda for the future.

Some Northwest notes on Monday's results can be found through our election archive page found herewe'll catalogue the commentary from both the victorious and the vanquished through the week as the post election days move forward.

As well, on our political blog D'arcy McGee, we will continue to post items over the next few days on the national and provincial campaigns, reflecting how the 2015 election day played out and what may be ahead in the Parliamentary session to come.

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