Julian wins handily
Peter Julian made his way slowly around the crowded Burnaby Firefighters Club banquet hall shaking hands, hugging volunteers, posing for pictures and smiling. He was smiling a lot.
He had every reason to. His victory was decisive and his party’s rise in the House of Commons meteoric.
It didn’t take long following Monday’s federal election for the New Democrat to claim his fourth consecutive triumph in Burnaby-New Westminster. This time he will join more than 100 other NDP members to form the official Opposition to a Conservative majority government.
In all four of his elections Julian’s share of the riding’s vote has risen going from 34.58 per cent in 2004 to 49.63 per cent this year.
“When we went door knocking we’d come across families that we’ve helped, that we’ve advocated for on their behalf and they appreciate that,” said Julian as upward of 400 supporters celebrated around him. “I never take that for granted. Every election you reapply and you reapply fresh. I never take Burnaby-New Westminster for granted.”
The NDP’s popularity reached unprecedented heights with more than 30 per cent of the vote and 102 MPs elected at last count Monday evening. It’s something not many saw coming, although Julian did.
“It’s an important step for our party but I have always known other parts of the country share our vision of cooperation and solidarity,” said Julian, who garnered 21,193 votes.
During his victory speech he recalled telling La Presse 18 years ago the majority of Quebec MPs would be New Democrats saying, “It is unavoidable.”
Julian expects with his parliamentary experience he’ll play a large role in helping mould the party in preparation for the next election.
“It will be a very exhilarating experience to work toward putting in place an alternative government, a government in waiting,” he said. “Whenever the next election will be held there will be that contrast in government between the Conservatives and a Jack Layton-led NDP.”
He credited the other candidates in the riding for running good, clean campaigns that never got personal, and congratulated the Conservatives led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper for winning a majority. But he had a warning for the PM.
“I’m hoping Mr. Harper realizes he didn’t get an overwhelming majority, he got a bare majority,” said Julian.
“Canadians have told him we’re going to give you a try and expect him to work with other Canadians and other parties. I think it would be a mistake if he thinks he’s got a blank cheque.”
A Conservative majority was the good news for Tory candidate Paul Forseth, who received 15,979 votes (35.73 per cent). Finishing second was the not-so-good news, but it wasn’t a surprise.
“We worked very hard, but with my 12 years of experience in the House of Commons (he served four terms as MP) I knew in advance we had a lot of ground to make up, but we would likely follow the national trend and it looks like we did,” said Forseth.
“I’m going to rest easy tonight knowing that the future of the country is in very competent, stable hands and that we should have some political peace for a time and the federal government will be able to roll out a normal legislation agenda over a four-year period.
“I was hoping that the national wisdom would have also translated here because the voting record of the incumbent was mostly negative, and in very direct opposite to what the nation needed.”
Forseth is undecided about future political endeavours. When asked if he had considered running in a provincial election, he said five others had already queried him about the same thing.
“It’s too soon to think about those things,” said Forseth.
The New West resident did point out he beat New Westminster NDP MLA Dawn Black twice while losing to her once in previous federal elections.
“I know the news media like to create these potential scenarios, but I’ve given no thought to that possibility,” said Forseth.
Liberal Garth Evans came in third with 4,496 votes (10.05 per cent). The former Burnaby councillor said there were a lot of things working against him. He was only appointed the candidate on March 28 and didn’t get much money to run his campaign.
“This is a tough riding for the Liberals and our leader and party didn’t help us,” said Evans. “To get 18 per cent of the vote is pretty bad. [Liberal leader Michael] Ignatieff didn’t run a very good campaign and that obviously hurt me, but it’s a tough riding under any circumstances for a Liberal.”
Evans said the Liberals had a lot of good platforms but Ignatieff didn’t take advantage of them. When Evans went out in the riding he got good response from the a proposed learning passport program that would have seen money for post secondary education. It was the first the constituents had heard about it, though.
“It was a very important plank in my campaign,” said Evans, who also felt Ignatieff not talking about the need for a national housing policy also hurt him.
“I’ve seen from this campaign that I can win if I’m properly prepared, financed and receive proper support from the party leader. I’m not sour at all on politics because I could see how I could win.”
Although he plans to run again if the next federal election, he also said he will more than likely run in the civic election in November.
Green candidate Carrie McLaren finished fourth with 1,738 votes with Libertarian Tyler Pierce getting 167.