Canadian voters see red but Kootenay-Columbia gets the blues in 2021 federal election

·4 min read

Two years later the song remains the same.

In the 2019 federal election the Liberals won a minority government — being declared before polls closed in B.C. — and Conservative candidate Rob Morrison edged NDP candidate Wayne Stetski for the Kootenay-Columbia seat.

Fast forward two years and one pandemic later and the same results transpired in the 2021 federal election Monday night, with a Liberal win and Morrison heading back to Ottawa.

And, similar to 2019, before Kootenay-Columbia voters finished marking an ‘X’ on their ballots a Liberal Party government minority was confirmed.

When polls closed at 7 p.m. Pacific in Nelson for the Kootenay-Columbia riding the race began as votes were counted, but the picture had already solidified across Canada as to what party would form government.

Although the bulk of the nation’s voters preferred Conservative blue over Liberal red, the Liberals retained support in key areas, winning 158 seats compared to the Conservatives’ 119 and punched the government ticket.

That contrasted with 34.07 per cent of voters across Canada embracing the Conservatives, with only 32.09 doing the same for the Liberals.

The same disparity existed between the Bloc Qubecois — that took 34 seats compared to the NDP’s 25 — but only had 7.79 per cent of the popular vote while the NDP more than doubled that support, showing 17.73 per cent support across Canada.

Again, the Green Party secured two seats based on 2.29 per cent of the vote across Canada while, surprisingly, the People’s Party of Canada did not earn a seat but nearly had the same support as the Bloc with 5.12 per cent of the total vote — a rise from 1.6 per cent in 2019.

Although the Kootenay-Columbia riding turned blue for the second time, the NDP gained some ground across Canada, winning three more seats than 2019’s disappointing 24, and garnering 1.69 per cent more of the popular vote.


The Kootenay-Columbia riding — which includes Nelson, Revelstoke and Cranbrook — returned Morrison to Parliament, again defeating one-time MP Stetski in 2019.

In 2015 Stetski rode an NDP orange wave across Canada and won the seat over Conservative candidate David Wilks.

The race was close for several hours after polls closed, but Morrison pulled away as the last few ballots came in. With four polls left to go, the Vancouver Sun declared Morrison the victor with a substantial lead of almost 4,000 votes — 25,910 to 21,935.

Of the 91,652 eligible voters, 59,850 people cast a vote for a turnout of 65.30 per cent in the Kootenay-Columbia riding, down from 73.79 per cent in 2019.

The surprise was the strength of People’s Party of Canada candidate Sarah Bennett’s showing, gathering 4,205 votes, just behind Liberal candidate Robin Goldsbury’s 5,417 votes.

The Green Party’s Rana Nelson rounded out the ballot list at 2,383.

South Okanagan-West Kootenay

Next door in the former western reaches of the riding in the South Okanagan-West Kootenay (which includes Castlegar, the Slocan Valley and Trail), NDP MP Richard Cannings won his second consecutive election, earned almost 3,300 (22,828 total) more votes than Conservative candidate Helena Konanz in winning the NDP a seat in the riding.

He defeated the Liberal candidate Ken Robertson by a count of more than 16,000 (6,864), while People’s Party of Canada candidate Sean Taylor took 4,286 votes. Of the 98,589 eligible voters, 56.59 per cent of them turned out, down from 73.57 per cent in 2019.

Bigger picture

So it follows that Justin Trudeau will remain Canada's prime minister after leading the Liberals to a minority win — 158 out of 338 seats — sinking Erin O’Toole’s bid for his first run at the title.

It was an election that many say did not have to happen, with the next federal vote having been scheduled for 2023.

But it was assumed Trudeau’s goal was to give Canadians a say in how to end the pandemic, with the intent of forming a majority government. A majority government was supposed to give the Liberals more ability to move forward with plans to increase government spending to create jobs, improve healthcare and tackle climate change.

The election also marks the second time Canada will be led by a man named Trudeau, with Justin following in the footsteps of his father Pierre Elliott Trudeau.

On the other side of the coin, the Tories are relegated to Official Opposition status again, — with questions surrounding O’Toole’s ability to retain the party’s leadership — bumping Jagmeet Singh’s NDP to the bronze medal.

Timothy Schafer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Nelson Daily

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