While NDP candidate Taylor Bachrach managed to handily win the riding of Skeena-Bulkley Valley over Conservative challenger Claire Rattée in the federal election Oct. 21, the vote was not evenly distributed across the region.
The strength for the NDP lay in the urban areas and Indigenous communities, particularly in the western part of the riding while the Conservative vote was concentrated in the non-indigenous rural areas and to the east.
In the town of Smithers, the former mayor managed to eke out a slim victory over his Conservative counterpart with 467 votes to Rattée’s 451.
However, in the surrounding area Rattée had the distinct edge. Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako Electoral District A voters cast 641 votes for Rattée and only 449 for Bachrach.
Similarly, the Telkwa electorate was 539-331 for the Conservative over the New Democrat.
Conservative voters in the Smithers area also appear to have been more motivated to get out and vote early. Advance polls gave Rattée an edge of 792 to 699 votes.
Overall, in Smithers and the surrounding area — including Witset, Evelyn and Telkwa — Rattée had a total of 2,539 votes to Bachrach’s 2,180.
Elsewhere in the riding, Bachrach trounced Rattée in Prince Rupert by 2,048 votes to 841.
In her hometown of Kitimat, however, Rattée carved out a convincing win garnering 1,127 votes to Bachrach’s 892.
But Bachrach had the edge in vote-rich Terrace where he collected 1,698 votes to 1,396 for Rattée.
As in the Smithers area, the Conservative was strong in the neighbouring rural areas. In Thornhill, Rattée garnered 745 votes the NDPer’s 641.
Another highlight for Rattée’s campaign was Houston where she received 1,028 votes to only 305 for Bachrach. Granisle, Topley, Fort St. James, Fraser Lake also turned out for the Conservatives.
Burns Lake was basically a toss-up with Rattée taking 469 votes and Bachrach 441.
Bachrach dominated the vote in most of the Indigenous communities.
Across the riding Bachrach received 16,944 votes or 40.9 per cent of the turnout with Rattée collecting 13,756 votes for 33.2 per cent of the turnout. Liberal Dave Birdi ran third with 4,793 votes or 11.6 per cent of the turnout with the Green Party’s Mike Sawyer coming in fourth with 3,280 votes or 7.9 per cent of the vote. Rod Taylor, Christian Heritage Party leader was next with 1,350 votes or 3.3 per cent while Jody Craven for the People’s Party gathered 940 votes or 2.3 per cent. Independent Danny Nunes collected 164 votes for 0.4 per cent while Merv Ritchie, the other independent, had 157 votes also for 0.4 per cent.
All told, there were 41,384 votes cast with 267 being rejected. With 66,421 electors on the voters list, the turnout was 62.7 per cent, a drop from the 68.26 per cent turn out in 2015.
Despite a sound win for the NDP, it was a step back for the party. New Democrat Nathan Cullen easily won in 2015 with 51.1 per cent of the popular vote overall, or 22,531 votes, for his fifth victory since his first election win in 2004. Conservative Tyler Nesbitt received 10,936 votes or 24.8 per cent, while Liberal Brad Layton collected 8,257 votes or 18.7 per cent of the popular vote.
Rattée, a tattoo parlour business owner from Kitimat and former municipal councillor in that community, won the Conservative nomination this spring by defeating Jody Craven who then went on to become the People’s Party of Canada candidate.
Bachrach is in Ottawa this week attending MP school.