After all that, electoral map looks the same in Southern Interior

Election changes little

Madison Erhardt

With the dust settled, the electoral map in the Southern Interior remains identical to before voters went to the polls — a sea of Tory blue and a lonely NDP seat in the South Okanagan.

As expected, both Kelowna ridings were amongst the first to be called for the Conservatives in the Thompson-Okanagan.

Kelowna-Lake Country incumbent Tracy Gray said Monday night she’s “honoured” to return to Ottawa.

While there are still thousands of mail-in ballots still to be counted, Gray defeated Liberal challenger Tim Krupa by a margin of roughly 20 per cent.

“I'm just looking forward to getting back to work and standing up for our community,” she said, adding the national results show Canadians were not ready to provide Trudeau with a “blank cheque for calling the election in the middle of a pandemic.”

Krupa, who made his debut as a candidate following stints in finance and the Prime Minister’s Office, wouldn’t say Monday night if he would consider running again in a future election.

"I think I'm going to take some time first to thank our campaign team and reflect on the campaign and on the journey and I will just continue to serve our community because this is my home," he said.

Across the lake in the vast riding of Central Okanagan - Similkameen - Nicola, Conservative Dan Albas defeated second-place Liberal Sarah Eves by at least 20 per cent.

“I would like to take a moment to sincerely thank everyone who voted in this election. I would also like to thank all candidates and all volunteers. The results do not always reflect the significant efforts that so many have put in over these past weeks for the various parties,” Albas tweeted Monday night.

Eves, meanwhile, said the results show there are a lot of progressives in the riding — but they are divided.

“The work really needs to begin in the next couple of weeks and next months, working together to build that understanding and support on the progressive side so that we can get that voice heard,” she said.

The only new face heading to Ottawa from the Thompson-Okanagan will be former Crown prosecutor Frank Caputo, who took the Tory banner from retiring MP Cathy McLeod in Kamloops-North Thompson-Cariboo.

Caputo easily defeated the NDP’s Bill Sundhu by a double-digit margin.

He was congratulated by Green party candidate and fellow lawyer Iain Currie outside Caputo’s campaign office late Monday night.

“Part of the job of the rest of us now is to tell Frank what we need — and it’s his job to represent us in Ottawa. It’s a huge responsibility,” Currie said.

“You’re an MP to all, or an MP to none,” Caputo responded.

In the South Okanagan-West Kootenay, NDP incumbent Richard Cannings widened his margin of victory considerably this year when compared to the same race in 2019, when he won by less than 800 votes.

Cannings, a biologist with strong personal popularity in Penticton, was leading by well over 3,000 votes and five per cent over former city councillor and Conservative candidate Helena Konanz late Monday.

The riding was amongst the last in B.C. to be called by the major networks, and both candidates reserved comment until Tuesday. The riding saw PPC candidate Sean Taylor capture eight per cent of the vote, which likely contributed to Cannings winning by a larger margin this time around.

In the North Okanagan-Shuswap, Conservative incumbent Mel Arnold cruised to victory by a margin in excess of 20 per cent.

"The campaign here in the riding played out very much as we expected it to," Arnold said Monday night, after being declared victorious.

"I ran a positive campaign, talked about our plan to secure the future for Canada, our plan for the environment, our plan for jobs, our plan for securing the country, our plan for accountability – and that resonated with people," he added.

Looking nationally, the results are more of the same — a Liberal minority that will need the support of other parties to govern.

In his victory speech, Justin Trudeau, who never explicitly called for a majority, suggested that the result was nevertheless a clear mandate for his government.

"Some have talked about division but that's not what I see," Trudeau said, arguing that millions of Canadians voted for a progressive Parliament.

Trudeau acknowledged the anger over the timing of the election.

"I hear you when you say that you just want to get back to the things you love, not worry about this pandemic or about an election, that you just want to know that your members of Parliament of all stripes will have your backs through this crisis and beyond."

Conservative leader Erin O'Toole, meanwhile, predicted that Trudeau would throw the country into another election within two years.

He said he'd congratulated Trudeau on the election victory but also told him, "If he thinks he can threaten Canadians with another election in 18 months, the Conservative party will be ready and, whenever that day comes, I will be ready to lead Canada's Conservatives to victory.

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