Liberal Carla Qualtrough is heading back to Ottawa.
With 180 of 181 polls reporting, Qualtrough has 20,553 votes, Conservative Garry Shearer has 16,561 votes, and the NDPs Monika Dean has 9,015 votes.
Political newcomer Paul Tarasenko of the People’s Party of Canada is in fourth place with 1,243 votes, followed by Jeremy Smith of the Green Party with 1,184 votes and Independent candidate Hong Yan Pan (also known as Melody Pan) with 364 votes.
Across the country, the Liberals will form a second consecutive minority government as they are leading or elected in 158 ridings, Conservatives are leading or elected in 119 ridings, the B.Q. leading or elected in 32 ridings, the NDP leading or elected in 25 ridings and the Green Party in two ridings.
These numbers could change in the coming days once Elections Canada has tabulated all of the mail-in ballots. As of print deadline Wednesday afternoon, the mail-in ballots had not been counted yet for Delta.
According to Elections Canada, voter turnout in Delta was 62.8 per cent, higher than the national turnout which was just a little over 58 per cent.
The 2019 election saw a voter turnout of 67 percent across the country.
Qualtrough told the Optimist she was thrilled with the result and is looking forward to once again representing Deltans in Ottawa.
“This is quite an emotional victory for me. It has been a tough 18 months for Delta and for our country. I’m just thrilled, honoured and touched that I can continue to do this,” she said.
She said even though it is a minority Liberal government once again, the mandate that the country has given the party is clear.
“What immediately comes to mind, as much as this is a minority government, there is a clear mandate to move forward with the things that we put out to Canadians in the last five weeks - $10 a day childcare, finishing the fight against COVID, job creation, banning the export of thermal coal out of DeltaPort – so as much as it is feels the same, it’s different because we had a different agenda in 2019 before the world was turned upside down with COVID and now we have put our post-COVID plans to Canadians and they liked what they saw, so that’s what excites me to really dig in on those things,” she said.
When asked if this election was worth it, now that the results are similar to the last election in 2019, Qualtrough said absolutely.
“In terms of the vision that we put forward for Canada moving forward, Canadians have embraced that,” she said. “They have asked us to do these hard things. I like to solve big problems and there are a lot of them that we are facing. I’m excited to get going.”
As for as the campaign locally, Qualtrough said she missed the in-person engagement.
“There were candidates who I saw only seen in person once or twice during the campaign. I missed the events and the people in the audience asking their spontaneous questions,” she said. “The level of engagement wasn’t as it has been, but we had more than 50,000 conversations in other ways – more one-on-one, and we really leaned into that ground game.”
As for priorities, Qualtrough said number one is the Massey Tunnel replacement project as well as affordable housing issues.
“Number one is to get some certainty around the George Massey Tunnel replacement. Not just the funding but also the process,” she said. “What does the environmental process look like from the federal stand-point, so really nail down the process and how we can commit to an actual dollar figure and really give Delta some certainty. The other, and I have had lots of discussions with the mayor on this, is Delta’s housing action plan. We need to ensure that Delta gets its fair share in terms of housing support.”
On a regional level, with the Liberals poised to gain two seats in Richmond, Qualtrough says there is an even greater opportunity to collaborate on issues that will be beneficial to both communities.
“With Mayor [Malcolm] Brodie being open to collaboration there was some of that, but yes, absolutely there can be greater discussions around environmental issues, especially when it comes to the Fraser [River],” she said.
An election no one wanted
Shearer, noting he was disappointed in the results, said it’s clear with the outcome this was an election that should not have been called during the pandemic.
“Most people, in the middle of summer are trying to enjoy time with their families, and then we are in the election campaign and to get people’s attention at the doors…that was the last thing they wanted to talk about,” he said. “We ended up with what we ended up with because people didn’t have time to access what was being offered, what the options were and said I can’t make a different choice and do what we did before, so here we are back to where we were at the beginning $610 million later and that’s really unfortunate.
“The positive thing for me is that I got out to speak with a lot of people, had some great conversations and learned more about my community. I look forward to continuing those discussions and continue to work with our business community to make Delta a better place.”
Shearer said through his work as executive director of the Delta Chamber of Commerce as well as with Rotary, he has built fantastic relationships.
“I don’t know in what capacity I will be involved, but I still have relationships with many in the Chamber who encouraged me to run for office,” he said. “I have a significant role with Rotary, which I will continue to work and just be available to be called upon when there is work to be done.”
He said he also hopes to continue to work on behalf of the Conservative Party in the riding.
“It’s fresh from the election and I haven’t had time to reflect. I know we are going to have discussions here in Delta and some of the relationships I have created within Delta. I have some ideas, and will discuss those and see where that takes us here in Delta.”
Great experience for first time candidate
Dean, who entered the political field for the first time, said she had a great experience.
“I was happy to see some gain in the vote share and picking up momentum, so seeing things grow in Western Canada. Getting my feet wet and dipping them into the political scene…everything for me went better than expected,” said Dean. “I was terrified at first, but even people who were not voting NDP in Delta were supportive and kind. I enjoyed connecting with every single resident. A lot of really supportive messages and emails coming in the whole time. The whole process for me has been really fun, but also very confidence building and empowering, so I really did enjoy myself.”
Dean said she has not ruled out running again.
“Not saying no for sure, it is really seeing where I am at in my personal and professional life, so the future is bright for sure,” she said.
Dean added that she wants to continue working on behalf of the party to strengthen their position in Delta.
“I was Randy’s campaign manager in the last election. With this election and meeting supporters and people from the NDP in Delta, I definitely got a taste of it and met a lot of people, so certainly want to get involved more with the riding association,” she said.