Duncan does it again

Conservative incumbent returns to Ottawa after tight election-night race

Conservative MP John Duncan will return to Ottawa after winning what he calls  his “most memorable election.”

Duncan, who was in a tight battle with NDP candidate Ronna-Rae Leonard on election night Monday, said his most recent campaign was one of his hardest-fought political battles.

“This will be my most memorable election,” said Duncan. “My first was obviously very large and I worked very hard for it but this election is just as memorable and I worked just as hard.”

Duncan was elected MP for the sixth time in the past seven elections for Vancouver Island North, a riding that historically has been a tight contest between the Conservatives and the NDP.

“This riding is always close,” said Leonard, who was running for the first time in a federal election. “The see-saw battle is almost a tradition here. I knew it would be a tight race.”

Duncan prevailed with 27,184 votes compared to 25,385 votes for Leonard.

“I felt good going in,” said Duncan. “I thought we were going to win, but I was hoping the ballots would be counted a lot more quickly. It seems they’re always counted so slowly in this riding and I’m not sure why. It’s a geographically diverse region and I guess things like that can interfere.”

Duncan believes he was re-elected because of his familiarity with the riding.

“I think I knew the riding very well and I think I understood the issues and I have a track record of delivering results,” he said. “I was a known quantity and I think the NDP candidate, certainly outside the Comox Valley, was an unknown quantity.”

Leonard, a Courtenay city councillor, only became a candidate in February, after former NDP candidate Catherine Bell announced she would not run in the next election to, instead, focus on her business in Courtenay.

Leonard said she was honoured to have the opportunity to represent the people of Vancouver Island North.

“It was so wonderful to meet so many people from so many communities and I think working with all the people here has made me grow. I look forward to the next election,” said Leonard, who plans to stay on as the NDP candidate.

Duncan, meanwhile, expects to return to the House of Commons “very soon” and is ready to get back to work.

“I don’t know what my role will be,” said Duncan, who was Minister of Indian Affairs in the previous government. “But there are some obvious issues I want to deal with. Because we have half of the B.C. coastline in this riding, there’s always marine issues and fisheries issues and we have an environmental review process going on at Raven Coal Mine (near Fanny Bay).”

Duncan said he wants to work with the forest sector, which he says is on the rebound, and make some investments in the riding. He also said he has been mandated by Prime Minister Stephen Harper to work on a B.C. solution to the halibut allocation issue.

“It’s something I said I would do and I will be dedicating significant time and priority to that issue,” said Duncan.

He added that finally securing a majority government, after two previous terms, shows that Canadians have confidence in Harper’s leadership.

“I believe history will look at Prime Minister Stephen Harper with a kind eye,” said Duncan. “I believe the next four years will be a prosperous time for Canadians once we have a full recovery from the recession.”