Canadians are waking up Tuesday to a new government that few predicted at the outset of the 78-day campaign, or even thought could happen just a few weeks ago. The Liberal party won a majority government, making Justin Trudeau the country’s second-youngest prime minister ever.
The NDP’s Nathan Cullen was sent back to Ottawa to represent Skeena-Bulkley Valley for a fifth consecutive term. While his party took a hit, dropping back to third party status, Cullen finished well ahead of his opponents.
“The country overwhelmingly decided on progressive platforms. The Liberals presented a platform that was broadly progressive, as did we. We were not able to outshine them in the broad narrative, in the conversation of the campaign.
“But I take some comfort in the fact that if anything we were criticized for it was being too centrist on our fiscal policy. It’s an interesting criticism to make of the NDP, that we were too careful with the books or we were too careful with not running deficits,” said Cullen.
With over 98 per cent of the votes counted in the Northwest, Cullen had 51.2 per cent of the vote. That is slightly below his 55 per cent take in 2011. Conservative Tyler Nesbitt was in second with 24.7 per cent, below the party’s 34.4 per cent finish in 2011. Liberal Brad Layton was in third with 18.7 per cent support, well ahead of his party’s 3.6 per cent share of the vote from 2011.
Speaking from his campaign office while watching the results come in, Nesbitt said his results had “absolutely nothing to do with my performance and my team and anything we did. It’s that we got caught up in that anti-Conservative, anti-Harper wave. And that’s just what it was. I make no regrets about how we campaigned.”
Nesbitt even suggested Cullen, who ran third the last time the NDP had a national leadership race, would make a viable candidate once again.
“If he does in the end, Nathan and I will never agree on many issues but at the very least I don’t think it would be such a bad thing for the representative of the Skeena-Bulkley Valley to lead a major federal party,” said Nesbitt.
Cullen would not commit to anything when it came to his future within the NDP party on election night.
“Furthest thought from my mind tonight. The biggest preoccupation I had tonight first was here in Skeena and how we would do, and that feels very good. The second, of course, was what was happening to the country, and while very disappointed we weren’t able to form government as we’d hoped to just a number of weeks ago, I’m encouraged Mr. Harper’s platform was rejected and a much more progressive one was picked up,” said Cullen.
“In terms of leadership, no there’s so much dust to settle; I’m just going to go see my kids again and have a normal meal maybe and just get off the road – we put almost 20,000 kilometres on the car, 20 debates. This was a long, long campaign and I’m just focused on calling my colleagues, both former and new ones and seeing how everybody’s doing.”
Layton said he hopes to run for the Liberal party again in four years. He was pleased with his result, with his main goal aside from winning being to make a marked improvement from the dismal 2011 numbers for his party.
“Realistically we went into this with an opposition candidate that was entrenched in here for 11 years, well-liked,” said Layton.
He added that the increase in Liberal support in the Northwest would put Cullen on notice.
“This will show Nathan that he’s going to have to work hard to make sure he keeps his seat.”
Voter turnout was up in the country and in the Northwest. Turnout in 2011 was 57.7 per cent. This election it was up above 68.3 per cent.