The dismal defeat of the Liberal Party of Canada has not discouraged local Grits who vow to rebuild the brand in Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge-Mission before the next election.
Mandeep Bhuller got 2,738 votes on Monday, 656 less than the Liberal candidate in 2008, while the party dropped nationally from 77 seats to 34 and lost official Opposition party status to the NDP.
Bhuller believes the riding results are a reflection of hard-fought campaigns on four fronts.
“We definitely didn’t go down in the same way the national team did,” said Bhuller, a Maple Ridge resident, who was picked as the Liberal candidate three days before the writ dropped five weeks ago.
Bhuller is thrilled by the support he managed to muster in a short time. For the first time in years, Liberals opened a campaign office in Maple Ridge, put up signs throughout the riding, engaged in social media, door-knocked and debated other candidates publicly.
Three out of the past four campaigns were run by “parachute” candidates, Bhuller added.
“I think any person can appreciate the value of living in and knowing your community before you stand up for it.”
Bhuller now intends to build on the strong team of volunteers who helped his campaign.
“We’ve got the commitment,” he said. “We need to keep this brand in the community. It is an alternative. We’ve got four years now, which was not the case before. For the past five years, elections have been called at the whim of national forces.”
Although the Greens dropped back to fourth place Monday, after beating the Liberals by 400 votes in 2008, Peter Tam was buoyed by his party’s showing nationally.
Green leader Elizabeth May became the party’s first elected federal member of parliament Monday when she won the Saanich-Gulf Islands riding. “It’s a major change in landscape in politics. I am just happy that I had a chance to participate in it,” said Tam.
“A lot of people were surprised the NDP didn’t do well here. It looks like Maple Ridge wants to keep their tradition and is not ready for the change yet.”
Just like the Liberals, Tam too will continue to build the Green party brand over the next four years.
“I think we need to do a little bit more educating,” said Tam, who will be seeking a seat on Maple Ridge council. “We need to build this community a little bit better.”