Wednesday, May 13, 2009

NDP holds the North coast and the Northwest..

In the end, the big showdown between incumbent MLA Gary Coons and former Mayor Herb Pond wasn't quite the nail biter that many had hoped for.

In fact, with a rather healthy margin, Mr. Coons will return to Victoria as the MLA for the North Coast for his second consecutive term, though once again he will sit on the opposition bench after a successful run locally, but disappointing turn of events on the provincial scene for the NDP.

The NDP candidate jumped out to a quick lead as the ballots began to be counted and never looked back, never trailed and was in the clear as early as 9:30 as the vote margin between he and Mr. Pond began to grow.

As the last of the 67 of 67 ballots was counted the final tallies would show Mr. Coons with 4940 votes or almost 58 percent of the popular vote, Mr. Pond was second with close to 35 per cent of the vote or 2981 votes and Green Party challenger Lisa Girbav made some inroads for her party with 658 votes or roughly 8 per cent of the vote.

The margin of Mr. Coons victory in 2009 was 1900 votes, an increase of around 300 from his margin of 2005, a definite disappointment for the Liberal party which had trumpeted Mr. Pond as a difference maker should he be voted to office.

Ms. Girbav, one of the youngest candidates in the province, apparently struck a chord with a number of North coast voters as she increased the Green Party's vote total from 2005 by 61 votes.

The numbers between the two elections of course can't be compared for a true reading of the political landscape, redistribution seems to have reduced the number of voters casting ballots for candidates from the last election.

2005 featured 87 ballot locations, compared to 67 this time around. In 2005 10,431 ballots were cast in North coast voting booths, while the 2009 campaign record will check in at 8,579 votes counted.

Still by factoring in the popular voting percentages we can determine that not much really changed in the minds of voters over the last four years, Mr. Coons gained about four per cent from last time around, the Liberals dropping about three percent, while the Green Party picked up about 2 per cent from last year.
It was a total perhaps aided a bit by the disappearance of fringe parties in the riding, and perhaps with a little bit of creative vote parking for this campaign, a reward for Ms. Girbav for her hard work against rather strong odds.

For Mr. Coons the victory will serve as repudiation of the concept that he was "too negative a force" on the political scene, one of the themes of the Liberal campaign that didn't seem to catch on, as the voters of the North coast were able to separate Mr. Coons requirements as opposition member with his interest and support for his riding.

The reduction in vote totals from the Belsey campaign of 2005 should serve as an indication that the North coast voters didn't take too well to the style of campaigning in the final week or so of the campaign, where the negative vibes seem to be coming from the Liberals as they desperately tried to turn back what clearly was going to be an NDP wave on the North coast.

For Ms. Girbav, her candidacy proved to be a bit of fresh air from the traditional political machines of the two mainstream parties, while few expected her to actually take a seat in Victoria after the election, it would seem that more than a few of the voters felt confident in showing their support if not for her party's policies for the most part, then for her bid for office.

She provided a safe spot to register disappointment with the two main parties, offering up to them the thought that it is time to refocus their attention on the many jobs at hand for the province.

For the NDP, the North coast and Northwest proved to be one of the brighter spots on the electoral map, despite the hopeful declarations of their Take Back your BC campaign, in the end the results tonight are very much the way they were in 2005. A solid Liberal majority, a third time repeat for Premier Campbell and little in the way of an increase in overall support across the province for the NDP.

While they did well on the North coast and in neighbouring Skeena, they couldn't capture either of the two Prince George riding's and fell short in other swing riding's across the province where gains were thought to be had.

With the campaign now at an end, it will be interesting to see what direction the political trail will take the three participants in this campaign, Mr. Coons once again solidly supported by his constituents will surely be given another high profile shadow cabinet position, where he can effectively hold the government of the day to account for their actions.

Ms. Girbav, young as she is, has many years to go before the electorate will consider her to be a cynical, old, manipulative politician, her issues rallied attention to her causes, making for a good launching point for further political action should she desire it.

As for Mr. Pond, he ended his term in municipal office for the chance for the larger stage and was not rewarded for his political risk. Rather than remaining the big fish in the small pond (sorry for the obvious cliche), he took on the prospect of becoming a smaller fish in a bigger ocean and found that the ocean currents in the end weren't moving his way.
Having been part of the electoral scene on the North coast in one capacity or the other for a number of years, it may be hard to wean himself off of the regular interaction with the voting public.

Then again, there is bound to be a Federal election on the horizon sometime in the next twelve months if not before.... if he gets that itch again... you wonder if Mr. Pond may not want to make one more run for a brass ring.

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