Incumbent NDP MLA Norm Macdonald won the Columbia River-Revelstoke riding for the third time in a row on Tuesday, May 14th.
Mr. Macdonald’s personal victory contrasted with his party’s fortunes. The BC NDP began the election campaign with a commanding lead in opinion polls, at times as much as 20 percentage points, only to watch the BC Liberals surge to a fourth straight majority on election night, meaning Mr. Macdonald is once again relegated to being in opposition.
“I think what it means for this area, again as an opposition member, is that I will have to fight as effectively as I can for the interests of the area,” said Mr. Macdonald. “The people have chosen me as their representative and we will hold them (the BC Liberals) to account. We will fight to make sure this area is strongly represented.”
Mr. Macdonald was quick to thank his volunteers.
“I am proud of the campaign we ran locally,” he said.
The mood at Columbia River-Revelstoke BC Liberal candidate Doug Clovechok’s campaign headquarters in Invermere on election night was a mixed bag of excitement at Premier Christy Clark’s majority win and disappointment that Mr. Clovechok was not among the Liberal MLAs elected.
As the returns from the polls came in, Mr. Macdonald took a significant lead. Liberal supporters and volunteers at Mr. Clovechok’s office were quick to point out that the vote difference between the two parties was closer than in the last election.
“You sure had him (Mr. Macdonald) scared,” said one Liberal volunteer, who was heading home for the evening.
But in the end, a narrower loss is still a loss, according to Mr. Clovechok.
“Whether it’s 10,000 votes or whether it’s one vote, it doesn’t matter,” said Mr. Clovechok, congratulating Mr. Macdonald and adding he was happy the campaign stayed respectful.
Mr. Macdonald edged out Mr. Clovechok by about 1,500 votes or roughly 12 per cent, according to preliminary results from Elections BC website. In the 2009 election, Mr. Macdonald beat Liberal candidate Mark McKee by 2,500 votes or almost 18 per cent.
“I’m absolutely thrilled by the Liberal victory,” said Mr. Clovechok. “There was never any doubt in my mind that Christy Clark was going to do exactly what she said she was going to do.”
Mr. Clovechok gave credit for the tighter race in the Columbia River-Revelstoke riding this time compared with last to his volunteers.
“We had a blast and we learned a lot,” he said.
Conservative candidate Earl Olsen, from Fairmont Hot Springs, was also disappointed not to come out on top in the riding.
“Obviously we would have liked to have won. We’re as surprised as everybody at the Liberal turnaround,” said Mr. Olsen.
But Mr. Olsen said he’s not going to throw in the towel any time soon.
“We’ll be back, this is just the beginning, a foundation we’re going to build from,” he said. “Considering we were late out of the starting gate, I think we had a great result.”
Mr. Macdonald secured 6,019 (or 48.18 per cent) of the 12,492 votes cast in the Columbia River-Revelstoke riding, according to Elections BC. Mr. Clovechok received 4,543 votes (36.37 per cent), Mr. Olsen took 1,079 (8.64 per cent) while the Green Party’s Laurel Ralston secured 851 (6.81 percent).
Article writer by reporter Steve Hubrecht