Tracy Gray

Kelowna-Lake Country MP Tracy Gray, shown in a recent file photo from Ottawa, was re-elected Monday.

Incumbent Conservative MP Tracy Gray easily retained her seat in the riding of Kelowna-Lake Country on Monday.

But nationally her party couldn't dislodge the governing Liberals, which under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau were re-elected to a second consecutive minority government.

As a result, Gray finds herself in the familiar position of being a local winner, but again heading to Ottawa as a member of the Official Opposition.

"I'm honoured the people of Kelowna-Lake Country have voted for me to continue to be their Member of Parliament," Gray said in an interview. "I'm going to advocate on their behalf every day."

Although the Liberals were re-elected, Gray said their power will again be constrained in a minority government.

"It's clear that Canadians were not prepared to write Justin Trudeau a blank cheque for calling an election in the middle of a pandemic," Gray said. "The Conservatives did make inroads in some areas that we can be proud of."

Once the B.C. results started coming in shortly after 7 p.m., Gray's bid for re-election in Kelowna-Lake Country was assured. After five of the 233 polls had reported, she had 47.6% of all votes cast.

Her lead stayed fairly constant as voting progressed. By the time 48 polls had reported, she had 44.4% of all votes cast, to 26.8% for Liberal candidate Tim Krupa, and 17.9% for NDP contender Cade Desjarlais.

The Green vote in Kelowna-Lake Country looked to have collapsed, from more than seven percent two years ago to just three percent. The Greens, who ran a candidate who does not live in Kelowna, actually finished fourth, behind People's Party of Canada candidate Brian Rogers, who was polling close to eight percent.

Gray's final margin of victory will be similar to 2019, when she won 45.5% of all local votes. Krupa's vote totals will be about five points down from what the Liberals received two years ago.

During an election forum last week hosted by the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce, Krupa suggested the riding would lose out on millions of dollars in federal investment if voters returned Gray while the Liberals were re-elected nationally.

That characterization of Gray as an ineffectual backbench MP was, not surprisingly, once she resisted after winning re-election.

"I will say that, during a big part of my term, we were in a pandemic and so, rightfully so, the majority of the funding that came into Kelowna-Lake Country went directly to people and businesses," Gray said.

But Gray said she was nevertheless able to secure federal funding for anti-homelessness initiatives and other programs, though they may not have been publicized because "I don't necessarily continually put out press releases".

Her local priorities for the coming Parliament, she said, included the completion of the Okanagan Rail Trail, re-opening YLW to international travel, further addressing problems of addiction and homelessness, and lowering inter-provincial trade barriers.

With the new Parliament looking similar to the last one, Gray said many people will wonder why Trudeau called an early election at a cost of more than $600 million: "Through all of the door-knocking I did, across all political affiliations, I came across very few people who were happy we were in an election."

Asked if she supported Erin O'Toole staying on as Conservative leader, Gray did not answer directly but said she was proud of the Conservative campaign. "We have to remember that he became the Leader in the middle of the pandemic and it's only been the last couple of months that he's been able to get out and meet people in person.

"As he gets in front of people, he resonates and expresses our message and I'm sure he's looking forward to doing more of that as we move forward," Gray said.