Make it three in a row for Richard Cannings and the New Democrats.
With 275 of 289 polls reporting as of 11:30 p.m. Monday, the incumbent MP was headed to a third consecutive term in the federal riding of South Okanagan-West Kootenay on the strength of 24,027 votes that equalled 40.9% popular support.
Conservative challenger Helena Konanz was well back with 20,691 votes, good for 35.2% support.
“These are hard-fought elections here in this riding and we can’t take anything for granted. We worked hard and I’m happy that the electors have once again put their faith in me to be their representative,” said Cannings just after 11 p.m. while on his way into the Barking Pub Parrot at the Penticton Lakeside Resort to meet a handful of supporters.
Liberal Ken Robertson was a distant third with 7,211 votes (12.3%), followed by the People’s Party’s Sean Taylor with 4,539 (7.7%) and Green candidate Tara Howse with 2,250 (3.8%).
After ceding an early lead to Konanz, Cannings jumped out in front and never looked back as poll results rolled in throughout the evening.
The incumbent was also on track to improve on his 2019 win, which he earned by just a 756-vote margin over Konanz.
Cannings, who was first elected in 2015, looked to hold one of the 12 B.C. ridings in which the NDP were leading or elected.
On the national level, the New Democrats were leading or elected in 26 of 338 ridings, good for fourth-party status, but marking an improvement from 24 seats in the last parliament.
Cannings said the New Democrats didn’t let fourth-party status slow them down in the last Parliament and don’t intend to let up now.
“The NDP has always punched above its weight in minority governments like the one we’re going to have,” said Cannings.
“We’ve gained a few seats overall – most other parties have stayed the same or lost – so we’ve gained some strength, some good, new MPs, and I’m really looking forward to what we can get done for Canadians in this Parliament.”
Cannings is among those who have accused Justin Trudeau of calling a snap election for political gain and wasn’t backing down from charge on Monday – despite Cannings himself gaining a stronger political mandate in the election.
“Yes, I still think it was unnecessary because we ended up with a Parliament that’s pretty much exactly the same – $600 million later,” said Cannings, who is also concerned about the time sunk into the campaign and the additional time it will take to restart government.
“We’ve lost a quarter of a year in a time when we have a pandemic, we have a climate crisis, we have a housing crisis, we have an opioid crisis. There are so many things we should have been in Ottawa doing… That’s why I really feel frustrated about having an election when Parliament was working fine.”