What the heck happened Monday night?
Thursday, October 22, 2015 @ 3:45 AM
Todd Doherty is obviously elated with his election win.
He should be. He had more skin in the game than the other candidates.
Doherty, who won the Conservative nomination last fall, has been campaigning full time for almost a year. It has been a long, long haul for him, certainly longer than any of the other candidates.
In addition, Doherty didn’t have an obvious Plan B. Unlike the other candidates, he didn’t have a job to go back to if he didn’t get elected. Had the polls gone the other way, Doherty wouldn’t have been taking his dog for a walk Tuesday, he would be heading down to the EI office.
It’s obviously a huge win for Doherty and he gets full credit for it.
However, for the Conservatives in Cariboo-Prince George dropping from 56 per cent of the vote to 36 per cent has to be seen as somewhat of a defeat. It’s certainly sobering and worrisome.
Some of that drop in popular vote can be attributed to the Anyone But Conservatives campaign across the country. However, I believe, most of disappearing Conservative support can be attributed to the fact that both the NDP and the Liberals fielded strong candidates … something that hasn’t happened here for at least a couple of elections.
The Liberals should also be happy with their resurgence in the riding. Going from five per cent of the vote to 32 is an incredible gain. To put it in perspective, the Liberal gain was larger than the Conservative loss. That is certainly reflective of the Liberal sweep across the the country. However, once again, most of the Liberal gain in Cariboo-Prince George can be attributed to having a strong candidate.
Tracy Calogheros was probably the strongest candidate in the race. Most of the pundits felt the race was between Doherty and NDP candidate Trent Derrick, which left me shaking my head because the two strongest candidates (Calogheros and independent Sheldon Clare) weren’t the frontrunners. Go figure.
While the gains were huge for the Liberals, they were, in reality, simply returning to historic numbers. The lesson for the Liberals in Cariboo-Prince George has to be “run a good candidate and we could win this riding.”
Which leads me to the NDP, who have to be shaking their heads … big time. They had a good candidate and ran a strong, aggressive campaign. But saw little gain over their 2011 result, when they ran a non-existent campaign with a university student as a candidate.
I think the biggest mistake the NDP made, locally and nationally, was to assume that the support they got in 2011 would be there in 2015. The NDP seemed to use their 2011 numbers as a starting point when, in fact, zero was the starting point for everyone.
The NDP also underestimated Calogheros’ strength. I talked to some NDP organizers during the campaign who felt that the Liberals would, at best, double their votes in Cariboo-Prince George. Big mistake.
One of the biggest surprises for me on election night was that Clare didn’t get more support. As mentioned above, he was was one of the stronger candidates, certainly stronger than either Doherty or Derrick. Obviously, voters aren’t keen on electing an independent.
But it’s all moot now as Doherty heads to Ottawa for the next four years. In some ways, the Conservative loss is good for Doherty. Had the Conservatives won another majority, Doherty would likely have become a voting automaton in the Stephen Harper autocracy.
Now, with Harper leaving and Doherty part of the Official Opposition, he gets a chance to show us how hard he really can fight for this riding. Now he will have to work for a living.
Bill Phillips is a freelance columnist living in Prince George. He was the winner of the 2009 Best Editorial award at the British Columbia/Yukon Community Newspaper Association’s Ma Murray awards, in 2007 he won the association’s Best Columnist award. In 2004, he placed third in the Canadian Community Newspaper best columnist category and, in 2003, placed second. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org