by Frank Bucholtz, Mission Record
Mission hopes to benefit from having its newly elected Member of Parliament as part of the new Liberal government.
Liberal Jati Sidhu was elected as MP for the newly created Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon riding in Monday’s federal election. His victory was one of the last ones declared in Canada, with the race called shortly after 1 a.m., after a nail-biter evening where Sidhu and Conservative Brad Vis engaged in a close race, with results slowly rolling in.
The final vote tally for the evening was 16,606 votes for Sidhu and 15,547 for Vis, although one poll had yet to report as of press time. NDP candidate Dennis Adamson came in third with 9,167 votes. Green Arthur Green was fourth with 2,288 votes, independent Wyatt Scott had 911 votes and Marxist-Leninist Elaine Wismer had 57 votes.
Overall, voter turnout was 71.3 per cent – a significant increase from the below-60 per cent mark estimated from redistributed results of the 2011 federal election.
Sidhu was unavailable for comment in the days following the election, but Mayor Randy Hawes said it is a big plus for the community to have an MP sitting on the government benches.
“It’s important to set aside what party you support after the election,” Hawes said. “Having an MP on the government side is good for us.”
He said he expects Sidhu to set up a constituency office in Mission, which contains about 40 per cent of the population of the large riding. The riding also includes northern Abbotsford, north of Bateman and Maclure roads; Agassiz and Harrison Hot Springs; and the Fraser Canyon north to Lillooet.
Sidhu will be just one of two Liberal MPs representing portions of the B.C. interior. The other is Stephen Fuhr, who won the Kelowna-Lake country seat.
Hawes said Mission council will be meeting shortly to go over a list of infrastructure projects and prioritize them, as the Liberals have promised to spend additional funds on infrastructure. He said Sidhu will help open doors for the community to get funds for a variety of needed projects.
He has congratulated him on his victory.
On election night, Sidhu said he’s already thought about his first priorities when he gets to Ottawa, and one of them is infrastructure.
“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.”
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.”
Conservative contender Brad Vis saw Sidhu’s small but consistent lead and opted to give a concession speech at 11:20 p.m. Monday.
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.”
Sidhu held the lead for much of the evening, with a small margin of between 150 and 600 votes. But the crowd at Vis’s camp went into a frenzy when their candidate pulled ahead briefly at about 10:50 p.m. Sidhu regained the lead within minutes, leading to loud cheers at the Liberal party in Abbotsford.
The Liberals swept the country to form a majority government with 184 seats; 170 seats are needed for a majority. Conservative candidates were elected in 99; they will form the Official Opposition. NDP candidates won in 44 ridings.
Mission was previously part of the Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge-Mission electoral district.
More than 9,000 voters in the Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon riding cast ballots in advance polling. Across Canada, advance voting numbers were up more than 70 per cent.
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.”
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 trickled 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.
(Photo below by Vikki Hopes: Brad Vis (right) talks with supporters and continues to check election results after giving his concession speech Monday night.)