Mark Strahl has hung on to his seat in Ottawa.
But he’ll be moving to the opposition benches following his Conservative party’s stinging defeat to the Liberal Party on Monday.
With some polls still counting, the Liberals were elected or leading in 184 ridings – more than enough to form the next majority government.
The Liberal’s march to victory started in the Atlantic provinces, where they claimed all 32 seats.
It continued westward, prompting the CBC to project a Liberal government 20 minutes before the polls even closed in B.C.
The early results cast a cloud over Strahl’s campaign party at the Best Western Hotel in Chilliwack.
The mood lifted as numbers from the Chilliwack-Hope riding began to trickle in. But a Conservative victory wasn’t assured until almost 9 p.m.
With all the polls counted, Strahl garnered with 21,315 votes (42.4 per cent). Liberal Louis De Jaeger was 4,350 votes back in second with 16,965 (33.7 per cent).
The NDP’s Seonaigh MacPherson was a distant third with 9,148 votes (18.2 per cent)
Voter turn out was 71.3 per cent.
(The numbers are still not official.)
Strahl, speaking to supporters after they had watched Prime Minister Stephen Harper accept defeat, acknowledge the struggle the party faced this time around.
“As you can see by the numbers,” he said, “the winds of change were against us.”
In 2011, Strahl capture 57 per cent of the vote in the old riding of Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon. The NDP’s Gwen O’Mahony was second with 26 per cent, while Liberal Diane Janzen was third with 11 per cent of the vote.
Despite the loss nationally, and the apparent erosion of support locally, Strahl stood by the Conservative’s record, echoing Harper’s comments to supporters in Calgary that the Canadian economy is the strongest it has been in years.
“This is a great record over the past 10 years that we can be proud of, and that we were a part of here in Chilliwack,” Strahl said.
He also vowed to be part of a vigorous opposition.
“We will hold this government to account,” Strahl said.
“Wake up call”
Meanwhile at the Liberal headquarters downtown Chilliwack, the celebration started before the polls even closed in B.C.
Because the black out was removed this year, poll results from the East Coast and Ontario were available earlier than usual. Louis De Jaeger’s supported erupted when they heard the Liberals had formed government.
And early poll results looked promising for De Jaeger, too, leading to cheers and drumming from supporter Eddie Gardner. When Strahl was predicted this riding’s MP, the mood became more somber.
But in the end, De Jaeger roused his supporters with a speech, and a promise that he isn’t finished with politics yet.
“We have a great government with a majority of power, and it’s what we wanted,” he said. “It may not have happened in this riding, but it happened in Canada.”
He said the close results should be “a wake up call” to Strahl.
“Start to get to work for our riding. We deserve better,” he said.
He also alluded to the possibility he would enter a different political arena.
“Municipal elections are coming,” he said. “Never say never. That’s on the table.”