The red wave that swept across the country last night didn’t flow into the newly formed South Okanagan-West Kootenay (SOWK) riding.
This area remained orange for a fourth straight federal election while the Liberals took hold of most of Canada.
NDP Richard Cannings was declared the winner after garnering 19,230 votes from 250 of the 276 polling stations.
By 9:45 p.m. Cannings had arrived to the celebration at his Penticton headquarters.
“I pledge to not only take your concerns to Ottawa, but also to seek out your ideas on how we can this a better place to live,” Cannings told the crowd. “Together we can build a better country and a Canada we can be proud of once again.”
Liberal Connie Denesiuk held second place with 15,008 votes, followed by Conservative Marshall Neufeld with 14,700, Samantha Troy from the Green Party, 2,279 and Independent Brian Gray, 339.
By the time B.C. voting stations closed at 7 p.m. the Liberals already had a near majority government.
Following the east to west sweep, Justin Trudeau was named the next Prime Minister fifteen minutes later with 172 seats and counting.
“We’re thrilled to see that Canada’s back on the right track,” Liberal candidate Connie Denesiuk told Dan Walton of the Penticton Western News.
“He’s the only leader that offered real change, now. The Conservatives said the status quo is good enough and the NDP said they’ll balance the books and then maybe fulfill their promises later. People want change and they want it now. And that’s what Justin Trudeau offered.”
The country-wide Liberal roll ended in the South Okanagan-West Kootenay as Cannings took an early lead and maintained about 600 votes over Liberal Connie Denesiuk. Behind her by about 600 votes was Conservative Marshall Neufeld, with Samantha Troy from the Green Party and Independent Brian Gray trailing.
During the course of the night, the NDP lead widened, and after 150 polls, Cannings pulled ahead by over 1,200 votes. Notably at the half way point, Denesiuk already had 6,700 more votes than the Liberals received in the 2011 election.
Meanwhile, the Conservative candidate accepted the results locally as well as nationally.
“It’s clear the people have made their choice in this riding and I look forward and fully expect he will be a good representative of this riding,” said Neufeld in a short speech to campaign supporters.
While the new electoral boundaries didn’t affect the local outcome, the new Kootenay Columbia Riding had a very tight race, with Conservative David Wilks battling NDP Wayne Stetski. Final results were unavailable at press time.
Electoral boundaries in the West Kootenay and Okanagan have changed many times throughout the years, but no matter where the Greater Trail area has fallen in the mix, its Member of Parliament has been either NDP or Conservative.
The exception is Jim Gouk, a three-term MP who held the seat for the Reform Party from 1993 to 2000 in what was then the Kootenay West-Revelstoke riding.
A boundary change moved the region into the West Kootenay-Okanagan riding that year, with Gouk retaining the position for the Canadian Alliance Party until 2003, and finishing his political career as a Conservative in 2006.
Since then, Atamanenko won the seat by a large margin, serving as NDP MP for B.C. Southern Interior until his retirement earlier this year.
Notably, there’s never been a Liberal MP since the Kootenay West riding was created in 1914. (Kootenay West was abolished in 1987 when it merged into Kootenay West-Revelstoke).
And, there hasn’t been a Liberal MP in the Okanagan since 1972.
Looking to past results, Atamanenko called the 2011 election a “two-way race” between his party and Conservative candidate Stephen Hill. The former school teacher won his third term after he out-polled Hill by 10 per cent and left Green candidate Bryan Hunt and Liberal Shan Lavell trailing far behind.
Overall votes were 22,729 for the NDP, the Conservatives with 17,352, the Green Party, 2,896 and Liberals, 1,695.
In 2008, Atamanenko won with 22,693 votes, followed by Conservative Rob Zandee with 17,122, Andy Morel from the Green Party with 4,573 votes, Liberal Brenda Jagpal, 3,292 votes, and Marxist-Leninist candidate Brian Sproule, 80 votes.
Prior to Atamanenko’s first term win in 2006, Conservative Jim Gouk held the riding leadership nine years.