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Duncan staves off NDP challenger

With the results of her defeat to Conservative John Duncan on the board behind her, first-time NDP candidate Ronna-Rae Leonard addresses supporters. - Lindsay Chung/Black Press
With the results of her defeat to Conservative John Duncan on the board behind her, first-time NDP candidate Ronna-Rae Leonard addresses supporters.
— image credit: Lindsay Chung/Black Press

Although veteran Campbell River politician John Duncan has learned that an election race is “not over until it’s over,” he finally prevailed Monday over NDP challenger Ronna-Rae Leonard.

With only a handful of polls left to report, the City of Courtenay councillor and first-time federal candidate phoned late Monday night to congratulate her Tory counterpart.

In yet another nail-biting Vancouver Island North tussle between the Conservatives and NDP, Duncan finished with 27,184 votes in unofficial results.

Pulling away as the last polls reported, Duncan finished Monday’s federal election atop the riding standings with a 1,799-ballot margin of victory.

Although he led Leonard most of Monday night, Duncan hesitated to claim victory at his Comox Valley election night headquarters at the Bamboo Gardens in Courtenay. He likely learned that lesson in winning two of three close battles with former Vancouver Island North NDP candidate Catherine Bell.

With his victory, Duncan has won the seat in the sprawling, sparsely populated riding in six of the past seven federal elections. He recaptured the right to be an MP in 2008, defeating Bell 26,166 to 23,681 votes and taking the final installment in their electoral rubber match.

In what quickly became a two-person race Monday, Duncan ended with 46.1 per cent of the riding’s popular vote, with Leonard at 43.1.

Although it’s cold comfort, Comox lawyer Mike Holland eventually wrested third place from Sue Moen of the Green Party.

Reflecting the Liberals’ collapse nationally, Holland totalled only 3,038 votes. Moen collected 2,995.

Independent Jason Draper and Frank Martin of the Marxist-Leninist Party trailed distantly with 290 and 56 votes respectively.

Even without Vancouver Island North, the Conservatives won the majority government leader Stephen Harper asked for with 167 seats out of 308 ridings with 39.62 per cent of the popular vote. The NDP held onto the momentum they gained in the final two weeks of the campaign, finishing with 102 seats and 30.62 per cent of the popular vote.

The Liberals and Bloc Quebecois suffered embarrassing setbacks, with the once-mighty Liberals taking just 34 seats and the BQ a mere four seats.

Green Party national leader Elizabeth May became the first Green elected in North America.

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