COLUMN: The 50-50 partition

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Surrey is once again showing its split political personality – this time at the federal level.

Voters in the four Surrey ridings elected two Conservatives and two NDP MPs on Monday. In the process, a pair of incumbents (one Liberal and one Conservative) lost their seats.

Surrey has long had a large concentration of both right-leaning and left-leaning voters. One of the best illustrations of this was in the 1979 provincial election, when in what was then the two-member riding of Surrey, voters elected one Social Credit and one NDP MLA. It was the only two-member riding in the province to split its party representation.

It was no big surprise that Jasbir Sandhu won Surrey-North. He had a dedicated and formidable campaign team working for him, and incumbent Conservative MP Dona Cadman was all but invisible during the campaign. She has shown she was uncomfortable with many aspects of her job in the two-and-a-half years she’s been an MP, and she is probably happy to get on with the next phase of her life.

Sandhu had a comfortable margin of victory, about 1,500 votes, but the surprise is that Cadman retained as many votes as she did, given her low-profile campaign. Clearly, many people in Surrey-North voted for the party, and wanted the Conservatives to win a majority.

This riding may be close again in the next federal election, which thankfully should be at least four years away.

The biggest surprise to me was the defeat of Sukh Dhaliwal, the Liberal MP for Newton-North Delta. He’s been a popular MP and has very deep roots within the large Indo-Canadian population in his riding.

However, as has happened in each election since the seat was created, it was a close three-way battle, and this time Jinny Sims of the NDP came out on top by about 900 votes. Sims has a high profile as the former president of the B.C. Teachers Federation, and that may have tipped the balance.

She only won with 33 per cent of the vote, as compared to just over 31 per cent for Dhaliwal and Conservative candidate Mani Fallon.

Dhaliwal was the first Liberal to represent Surrey in Parliament since 1953, and given the sorry state of the Liberal party, it may be a long time before there is another federal Liberal elected in Surrey.

Nina Grewal won Fleetwood-Port Kells by a comfortable margin of more than 7,000 votes. The incumbent Conservative MP did not suffer from her low-profile campaign.

The biggest surprise there was that Green candidate Alan Saldanha, who withdrew from the race after controversy over comments on his Facebook  page, still received 1,559 votes. His name was still on the ballot. Obviously, many people pay no attention to the campaign and simply vote for the party, no matter what.

South Surrey-White Rock-Cloverdale was once again solidly Conservative, with incumbent MP Russ Hiebert winning by a huge margin – more than 20,000 votes ahead of his closest rival, Susan Keeping of the NDP.

Congratulations to all who took part in the campaign, for sacrificing the time and energy to make our democratic system work.

And thanks to all who took the time to vote.

Frank Bucholtz is the editor of The Langley Times. He writes weekly for The Leader.


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