Incumbent New Democrat Wayne Stetski speaks with Cranbrook Townsman reporter Paul Rodgers. Screenshot

Morrison wins Kootenay-Columbia for Conservative Party

Unofficial results peg 28,495 votes for Morrison with 98 per cent of polls reporting Monday evening

Trevor Crawley, Barry Coulter, Paul Rodgers, Corey Bullock, Tyler Harper

On Monday night the NDP candidate Wayne Stetski initially kept it close with his Conservative counterpart in Kootenay-Columbia. But unlike 2015, it was the Conservative who pulled ahead.

Rob Morrison of Creston is the new Member of Parliament for the vast southeast riding of Kootenay-Columbia, defeating the NDP incumbent and taking the Monday election by more than 7,000 votes.

Nationwide, Morrison’s party was unable to break through in what was predicted to be an extremely close election. Instead, Justin Trudeau was returned as Liberal prime minister, albeit of a minority government.

In neighbouring South Okanagan-West Kootenay, incumbent New Democrat Richard Cannings was re-elected, defeating Conservative Helena Konanz by about 800 votes.

After being declared the winner, Morrison spoke to supporters and the media at a gathering in Cranbrook, musing about being on the campaign trail for over two-and-a-half years.

“To have it all over now after all that work, it is unbelievable, actually,” Morrison said. “I’m honoured and the support I’ve had is unbelievable. It’s fantastic.”

He said that getting to election day after being on campaign trail for so long was nice, but nerve-wracking.

READ: Liberals return with minority government in Election 2019

“Because at the end, everybody gets more nervous as you get to the finish line,” he said. “It was nice to get here, but especially the last two or three days, it’s been nerve wracking. You always ask yourself, what more could I have done?“

Morrison mentioned the quality of all the candidates in the race.

“It was very professional. We all were different and we all said what we wanted to say. The issues that I’ve heard throughout are jobs, No. 1, the economy. People want to get back to work, we want to build the pipelines so we can get the oil flowing.”

Stetski spoke to Black Press as the numbers were coming in, but before the result had been confirmed. However, at that point the numbers were pointing towards a Conservative victory, and the incumbent was in a reflective mood.

“Now that I’ve been a member of parliament — and of course I’ve met MPs from across Canada from various parties — and just watching the results come in tonight, there are some really good people from all parties that are no longer going to be there as members of parliament.

“So there’s a bit of a sense of sadness or nostalgia that really good human beings, because that’s what I always look at first and foremost, will no longer be there representing their ridings, so it’s an interesting business.”

Just before Morrison’s victory was confirmed, Stetski reflected on the experience he had as MP.

“When you first take your seat in the old House of Commons … and you look around and you think of all of the stories that have been told in that chamber for almost a century, and you think about the fact that much of Canada and who we are was created there in the House of Commons, it just gives you such a sense of honour to be there. So regardless of what happens tonight that feeling is really special.

“The other thing that I really value is I’ve got a great team here in the riding. We’ve worked really hard for people for the last four years, we’ve helped hundreds of people with problems they were having with the federal government … and that has absolutely been one of the joys as well.

“So it’s all about public service. It’s also about making a better Canada and that makes it quite a special job.”

Unofficial results showed:

• Rob Morrison, Conservative Party of Canada: 29,893

• Wayne Stetski, New Democratic Party: 22,707

• Robin Goldsbury, Liberal Party of Canada: 6,033

• Abra Brynne, Green Party of Canada: 5,998

• Rick Stewart, People’s Party of Canada: 1,360

• Trev Miller, Animal Protection Party: 336

According to Elections Canada, in Kootenay-Columbia 66,327 out of 91,652 registered voters had cast ballots in Kootenay-Columbia, for 72.37 per cent per cent voter turnout.

Nationwide, the Liberals took 157 seats, the Conservatives 121, the Bloc Québécois 32, the NDP 24, the Green Party three, and one independent was elected.

Goldsbury of the Liberals came in third in the riding, but spoke of how her campaign had put down good roots for the party in Kootenay-Columbia, boding well for the future.

“I think we’ve done an exceptional job,” Goldsbury said. “We’ve got a fantastic young, dynamic, committed team. This is a long-term engagement. We’re here for the long term.

“The Liberals in this valley, which make up about 25 per cent of the population, have had to vote strategically one way or the other, to actually have a meaningful vote. But we’re changing that. We’re planning on painting this riding red. It may take a few years, but we are getting so much support.

“We may have been underestimated in this campaign, they’re not underestimating us anymore. We’ve got smarts, roots and determination, and we’re going to make this the most interesting riding in Confederation.”

Abra Brynne of the Green Party, who finished fourth, spoke of the success her party had in the campaign, having nearly matched the Liberals’ vote tally in Kootenay-Columbia.

“I think it’s interesting to see it actually demonstrates the impact we had, the conversations we had and the work we’ve done across the riding. I’m proud of the campaign we ran. I’m proud of the fact our team and myself stayed positive. We paid careful attention to who lives in this riding and what they’re thinking and wanting.

”I think Rob Morrison had enormous benefit in that he was campaigning for a long time and had the opportunity to really connect well with people. I respect him for all the work he’s done and expect he will represent us well. I have a good working relationship with him and expect he will take my phone call if I have some things I think he needs to pay attention to.”

READ: LIVE MAP: Results in Canada’s 2019 federal election



trevor.crawley@cranbrooktownsman.com

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