Liberal Jati Sidhu has been elected as the Member of Parliament for Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon.
The race was called shortly after 1 a.m., after a nail-biter evening showing Sidhu and Conservative Brad Vis in a close race as results slowly rolled in.
The final vote tally for the evening was 16,606 votes for Sidhu and 15,547 for Vis. NDP candidate Dennis Adamson came in third with 9,167 votes.
Overall, voter turnout was close to 70 per cent — a significant increase from below 60 per cent estimated from redistributed results of the 2011 federal election.
Sidhu’s campaign event, at the Abbotsford Banquet Centre, was attended by a large group of friends and supporters — about 100 stayed all night to hear his victory speech.
“It’s exhilirating. The fruit ripens when it stays longer on the vine,” Sidhu said.
He’s already thought about his first priorities when he gets to Ottawa.
“Being a farmer, I’ll have to look after agricultural sustainability. And infrastructure — that’s another goal I have in mind,” Sidhu said. “I’m pretty sure we’re going to be spending a lot of money on roads and bridges, I’d love to work with the municipalities and local government to make that happen.”
He insisted on the importance of supply management programs and stakeholder input in agricultural and trade policy.
“We are operating a nation. But I need my stakeholders sitting on the table…I know first hand being a farmer how hard it is if you don’t know what you’re getting into it. Supply management is a bread and butter for a lot of farmers, and we have (thousands) of dairy farmers in this country, we need to protect their interest. They have generations and generations into that business.”
His well-attended campaign event showed the dedication of supporters, volunteers and friends.
“I can’t thank them enough. I think I said it in Punjabi, that I want to pay it back by serving my constituents. .It doesn’t matter who they voted for, I’m going to be representing the whole Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon.”
Although the race was still uncertain at 11:20 p.m. on Monday, Conservative contender Brad Vis saw Sidhu’s small but consistent lead and opted to give a concession speech.
Vis said he was disappointed with the results, which at that point had Sidhu just 700 votes ahead in the battle that had gone back and forth all night.
“We are devastated but life is bigger than politics and who runs government,” Vis said at the Elks Hall in Mission, with wife Kat by his side.
Vis, who was at times tearful, said he was “really, really disappointed,” but thanked his supporters for “doing everything right.”
Although more than 35 polls had yet to report at that point, most of those were in the Fraser Canyon, which is predominantly NDP territory, and Vis didn’t expect Sidhu’s lead to wane.
Sidhu and Vis battled it out all night, with Sidhu holding the lead for much of the evening, with a small margin of between 150 and 600 votes. But the crowd in Mission went into a frenzy when Vis pulled ahead briefly at about 10:50 p.m. Sidhu regained the leas within minutes, leading to loud cheers at the Liberal camp.
The Liberals have swept the country to form a majority government with 184 seats; 170 seats are needed for a majority. Conservative candidates have been elected in 99; they will form the Official Opposition. NDP candidates have won in 44 ridings. The Bloc Québécois has 10 elected candidates and the Green Party one.
Residents of Mission and Matsqui were voting in the newly created Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon Riding. The district was previously part of the Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge-Mission electoral district.
The new riding contains all of Mission, along with portions of Abbotsford north of Maclure and Bateman Roads. It also includes the Eastern Fraser Canyon north of the Fraser River, and the Fraser Canyon north to Lillooet.
Despite the geographically large territory, the majority of the riding’s voters live in Mission and Matsqui.
Six candidates ran in Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon: Dennis Adamson of the NDP, Arthur Green of the Green Party, Jati Sidhu of the Liberals, Brad Vis of the Conservatives, Elaine Wismer of the Marxist-Leninist Party and independent Wyatt Scott.
Green received 2,288 votes, Scott 911 and Wismer 57.
More than 9,000 voters in both the Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon riding already cast ballots in advance polling. Across Canada, advance voting numbers were up more than 70 per cent.
At 7:50 p.m., NDP candidate Dennis Adamson said it was obvious from national results that the Liberals had run a good campaign.
“I’m a little bit surprised,” he said.
He said the issue of strategic voting, which may have played a part in the Liberals’ success in other parts of Canada, did not come up at the doorsteps when he was campaigning.
The overall results “are not what I wanted. But people have the right to choose.”
At 8 p.m., Green Party candidate Arthur Green said strategic voting played a big part in the overall results, nationally and locally.
“I did hear a lot about it, even from friends of mine. They said they were voting strategically because they did not want to see another Harper government.”
Green believes he could have got as much as 10 per cent of the vote if there had not been so much strategic voting.
Before results from the riding tricked in Monday evening, independent candidate Wyatt Scott said he hoped they wouldn’t be indicative of a majority government.
“I think a majority government is not a healthy thing,” he said. “People have forgotten about the Liberal government that we had before we had this Conservative one.”
Scott said minority government, which gives all MPs much more say in each piece of legislation, is a much better system. He is hopeful that the Liberals will examine other means of electing representatives, such as proportional representation, as was promised during the campaign.
“There are different ways we can go about it,” he said.
He has enjoyed taking part in the lengthy campaign.
“It’s been an incredible amazing opportunity and I have met many incredible people throughout the whole riding.”