If the results could be foretold by the mood at the campaign headquarters Monday, the election in Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge was over before it began.
Sombre faces and muted talk prevailed at both the NDP and Conservative camps early in the evening, followed by the surprise victory of Liberal candidate Dan Ruimy.
“It’s quite a surprise,” Conservative candidate Mike Murray said shortly after conceding defeat.
After talking with NDP candidate Bob D’Eith, “We really thought both of us would be neck and neck,” Murray added.
“If I lose, I’m going to lose to the NDP.”
The Liberals won only five per cent of the vote in the 2011 election in Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge, Murray pointed out.
“Shocking,” he called Monday’s result.
But Ruimy earned the support of 34 per cent of Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge voters.
“It was the orange wave last time. It was the red wave this time,” Murray said.
Murray agreed that broadcasting the results of the polls in eastern Canada played some role in how B.C. voted.
“I do think it played a roll because they did so well when they got to B.C.,” he said.
Murray thinks many voters were undecided and wanted to go somewhere, but not NDP. What he didn’t expect was the number of voters from both the NDP and Conservatives who voted Liberal.
“In some ways, we split the vote and up comes the Liberal.”
He also detected fatigue among Conservatives during the 78-day campaign.
“There was a lot of Conservatives who said, “You know, we’re just tired.’”
And after 10 years in power, the party became unresponsive.
“Sometimes you get your back up and say, ‘this is the way we’re going.’”
Now, the party needs rebuilding.
“We need to change what people think Conservatives are,” Murray said.
“You can’t be against something. You have to be for things. I don’t think it’s a bad think ultimately. The party has to rebuild.”
D’Eith said he and his campaign workers did everything they could to run a high-energy campaign.
“We fought hard all the way through the campaign. We thought we were doing really well. We ran a strong campaign,” he added.
“I guess Canadians have spoken. That’s all I can say and we respect democracy – and that’s the way it ended up.”
Locally, Ruimy won with 17,605 votes, or 33.8 per cent, with all 187 polls counted.
Murray was second with 16,373, or 31.4 per cent.
NDP candidate Bob D’Eith was third with 15,450, or 29.6 per cent.
Peter Tam of the Green Party has 2,202 votes, followed by independent candidate Steve Ranta with 516.
“It was a close, three-way race and Dan won,” D’Eith said.
“Obviously, it had a lot to do with what happened nationally.”
D’Eith wouldn’t speculate on whether the Liberals outflanked the NDP from the left side of the political spectrum with their spending platform.
“I think there were a lot of promises made and we’ll see how that pans out.”
Mike Morden, a former Maple Ridge councillor, was also surprised by the Liberals’ national result.
“But what’s a surprise to me even more is the reason why they have it, which is the NDP meltdown,” he said.
‘It really concerns me the amount of money Justin [Trudeau] wants to spend.”
Pitt Meadows Mayor John Becker also stopped in to the Conservative election night headquarters in the Extra End Lounge of the Golden Ears Winter Club.
“Personally, I’m disappointed in the results overall. Clearly, the electorate was looking for a change.”
People didn’t want to vote Conservative but didn’t want to vote NDP so parked their votes with the Liberals, Becker said.
As a local mayor, the Liberal win could be good for municipal infrastructure, such as Metro Vancouver sewer projects.
“I think the commitment to spending will have a short-term benefit to local government.”