Elections

NDP challenger concedes to Conservative incumbent in Vancouver Island North

John Duncan (right) talks to a supporter in his election headquarters at a Courtenay restaurant as the Conservative incumbent waged another tight election battle in Vancouver Island North. - Erin Haluschak
John Duncan (right) talks to a supporter in his election headquarters at a Courtenay restaurant as the Conservative incumbent waged another tight election battle in Vancouver Island North.
— image credit: Erin Haluschak

Although veteran Campbell River politician John Duncan has learned that an election race is “not over until it’s over,” he appears to have finally prevailed 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 said she had phoned to congratulate her Tory counterpart.

In yet another nail-biting Vancouver Island North tussle between the Conservatives and NDP, Duncan had 25,832 votes with just three polls still to report. He held a 1,330-ballot lead, his largest margin of Monday evening.

Not much earlier, Duncan was hesitant to claim victory at his Comox Valley election night headquarters at a Courtenay restaurant. That’s perhaps a lesson he learned in winning two of three close battles with former Vancouver Island North NDP candidate Catherine Bell.

With a win Monday, Duncan has won the seat in the sprawling, sparsely populated riding in six of the past seven 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 had become a two-person race, Duncan held 45.8 per cent of the riding’s popular vote, with Leonard at 43.4 with 295 of 298 polls reporting.

Third-place Sue Moen of the Green Party continued to hold a narrow lead over Liberal Mike Holland, reflecting the Liberals’ collapse nationally. After 295 polls reported, Moen had 2,873 ballots, compared to 2,854 for Holland.

Independent Jason Draper and Frank Martin of the Marxist-Leninist Party trailed with 279 and 53 votes respectively.

Even without Vancouver Island North, the Conservatives won the majority government leader Stephen Harper asked for, leading or elected in 166 of 308 ridings with 39.6 per cent of the popular vote. The NDP held onto the momentum they gained in the final two weeks of the campaign and were leading in 102 seats with 30.7 per cent of the popular vote.

The Liberals and Bloc Quebecois suffered embarrassing setbacks, with the once-mighty Liberals ahead in just 35 seats and the BQ leading in a mere four seats.

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

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