Conservatives appear ready to make gains in B.C. as Liberals lose ground

Laura Kane - The Canadian Press

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Conservative Cathy McLeod, right, in this photo posted to her official Facebook page in Sept. 2019, has been re-elected in Kamloops Thompson Cariboo. Photo: Cathy McLeod MP Kamloops Thompson Cariboo/Facebook

VANCOUVER — The Liberal wave that swept British Columbia’s Lower Mainland four years ago appeared to have partly been washed away in Monday’s federal election.

The Conservatives looked ready to make gains in early results, while anger over the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion wasn’t securing the New Democrats any new ridings.

Justin Trudeau’s Liberal party won a number of surprise seats in Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley in 2015, which were poised to switch back to long-standing alliances on Monday. Ridings in Surrey, Richmond, Mission and Maple Ridge looked ready to boot out Grits in favour of the Tories as the votes were still being tallied.

In Burnaby North-Seymour, Liberal incumbent Terry Beech was projected to thwart the political comeback by New Democrat Svend Robinson. The riding includes the terminus of the Trans Mountain pipeline, and while Beech voted against the expansion, his government’s purchase of the project was considered a political liability for him.

Jody Wilson-Raybould, the former Liberal attorney general who was booted from caucus amid the SNC-Lavalin scandal, was facing a nail-biter as she attempted to recapture Vancouver Granville as an Independent. The Conservative and Liberal candidates were close behind as polls continued to report results.

Several popular Liberal MPs appeared on their way to hold their seats in Metro Vancouver, keeping a few red patches in the region’s electoral map. Jonathan Wilkinson held North Vancouver, while Harjit Sajjan, who was defence minister, led in Vancouver South.

Vancouver Island, which had been poised to be a battle between the NDP and Greens, was en route to staying mostly orange. Green Leader Elizabeth May was re-elected in Saanich-Gulf Islands and Paul Manly won in Nanaimo-Ladysmith, but the New Democrats were ahead in all other ridings on the progressive isle.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh handily won Burnaby South in a byelection earlier this year and held his seat.

In the Interior, the Conservatives appeared poised to hang onto the seats they held going into the election. Former provincial cabinet minister Terry Lake was on the ballot for Trudeau’s party in Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo, but Tory incumbent Cathy McLeod was re-elected.

Popular New Democrat Nathan Cullen chose not to run again in his northwest riding of Skeena-Bulkley Valley, but the party’s strong base helped candidate Taylor Bachrach take the seat. Northeast B.C., home to shale gas fields, typically skews Conservative and that did not change on Monday.

All four major party leaders spent the final day of the campaign in B.C., suggesting they expected the province to be a crucial battleground.

Climate change, including the Trans Mountain pipeline project, was expected to be a defining issue in Metro Vancouver and Vancouver Island. The pipeline runs from the Edmonton area to Burnaby and the expansion would triple its capacity to carry diluted bitumen and increase tanker traffic seven-fold off the coast of B.C.

The Greens and NDP targeted voters disappointed with the Liberals’ purchase of the pipeline for $4.5 billion.

The parties also made competing housing promises in an effort to capture Vancouver-area voters frustrated by high prices and low vacancy rates.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 21, 2019.