By Daily Courier Staff
This time it wasn’t even close.
Voters in Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola returned Conservative Dan Albas to office following a decisive win on Monday.
With 195 of 227 polls reporting at press time, Albas was ahead with 26,187 votes, or 48.3% of the vote.
Liberal candidate Mary Ann Murphy, an associate professor at UBC Okanagan, was in second place with 13,425 votes and the NDP’s Joan Phillip was third with 9,113.
Despite the Liberal win nationally, Albas said voters in COSN sent a strong message to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
“From the view of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola, all I can say is Mr. Trudeau has received a stern rebuke for his policies,” Albas said.
Albas said it was also a good night nationally for the second-place Conservatives.
“What I am celebrating tonight is another mandate for myself, but also the 20-plus seats that we know of right now, there could be more as the night progresses, but also to be winning the popular vote.”
Albas, a former martial arts instructor and city councillor from Penticton, was first elected in 2011 as part of a Conservative majority in the now-defunct riding of Okanagan-Coquihalla with 53.5% of the vote.
Albas was in for a much tougher ride in 2015. Moving to West Kelowna, he won the election with 24,517 votes, but Liberal Karley Scott wasn’t far behind with 23,059.
At press deadline, Green candidate Robert Mellalieu was in fourth place with 4,244 votes, People’s Party of Canada candidate Allan Duncan was fifth with 1,110 and Libertarian Jesse Reiger was sixth with 182 votes.
For runners-up Murphy and Phillips, it was the first run at federal office for both.
The Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola riding includes portions of Kelowna, West Kelowna, Peachland, Summerland, Keremeos, Princeton, Merritt and Logan Lake.
Albas was most recently the Conservative party’s shadow minister for innovation, science, economic development and internal trade.
He’s best known nationally for his efforts to loosen restrictions on moving beer and wine across provincial borders.
“I’m going to be a voice for forestry, but locally close to home, Lake Okanagan still does not have protections,” Albas said.