The Strahl legacy in federal politics in the Eastern Fraser Valley continues as Mark Strahl won his second straight election in Chilliwack-Hope and his third for the area that includes Chilliwack and Hope.
Prior to Mark’s three victories, his father Chuck Strahl won six times under three different political stripes dating back to 1993.
By about 9 p.m. on election night, with fewer than half of polls reporting, it was clear Strahl would win yet again with a large margin over Liberal candidate Kelly Velonis.
Preliminary results posted Tuesday morning with 195 of 196 polls reporting had Strahl with 26,477 votes or 49.7 per cent of the vote over Velonis and her 10,735 votes or 20.2 per cent. In third was the NDP’s Heather McQuillan with 8,868 votes at 16.6 per cent with the Green Party’s Arthur Green garnering by far the most ever for his party in the riding with 5,168 votes or 9.7 per cent.
Among the smaller fringe parties that won no seats in Parliament, the People’s Party of Canada’s Rob Bogunovic won 1,744 votes or 3.3 per cent, Christian Heritage Party’s Daniel Lamache garnered 209 votes and perennial local candidate Dorothy-Jean O’Donnell for the Marxist-Leninist Party received just 71 votes.
For the second time since 2015, Mark Strahl will be in the opposition benches as the Justin Trudeau Liberals won the most seats, if fewer than four years ago moving from a majority to a minority.
Before Conservative leader Andrew Scheer bragged about his surge in seats and said Trudeau was “on notice” in his post-election speech, Strahl told The Progress that while the result may not have been what they were looking for, this is just the start.
“If you are not going to win yourself, you want to keep the other guy in check and I think we’ve done that,” Strahl said in a post-election interview at his event at the SureStay Hotel by Best Western. “Minority governments allow the Parliament to have control over the agenda, they have to work with the other parties…. We’ll be holding them to account. We’ll get better. This is Andrew Scheer’s first election. I think in the next election we will see another result.”
During his post-election speech, he joked with supporters that they might need to be ready for another campaign soon. Asked if he thought that was a reality, he said it was possible since a minority government cannot ram through legislation without support from others.
“You never know, minority governments are not stable and who knows when we will be back to the polls.”
Just as in 2015 when Strahl was elected in Chilliwack-Hope, his campaign supporters didn’t immediately celebrate the local victory as they were left watching results from across the country, unsure whether Strahl would be left in opposition or in a minority government.
After it was clear he had won yet the Liberals took the country, Strahl greeted his supporters with a positive message of thanks to his volunteers, and that the Conservatives made progress in taking away seats from the Liberals. And he promised this was the next step en route to an eventual return to governing.
By way of some brief history, in 2015, Strahl won with 42.33 per cent over the Liberal’s Louis De Jaeger’s 33.78 per cent with the NDP’s Seonaigh MacPherson taking 18.2 per cent. In that election, the Green Party’s Thomas Cheney took 4.7 per cent.
When Strahl was first elected it was in the geographically much different riding of Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon in 2011. He won with 57.2 per cent over the NDP’s Gwen O’Mahony’s 25.78 per cent and Liberal Diane Janzen’s 10.81 per cent, with Green candidate Hoskins taking 5.5 per cent.
Before that, Mark’s father Chuck Strahl won the riding with 62.32 per cent. Strahl senior won six elections locally for the Reform Party then the Canadian Alliance then the Conservatives, in the riding that changed from Fraser Valley East to Fraser Valley to Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon.