New Democrat Taylor Bachrach will be headed to Ottawa as the new MP for the Skeena-Bulkley Valley after winning the riding by more than 3,000 votes over his next closest competitor. He was declared the winner at approximately 8:30 p.m.
Bachrach has served as the mayor of Smithers since 2011. It will be the first time since 2004 that the region — the largest geographically in B.C., and seventh-largest geographically in Canada — has been represented by someone other than long-time NDP MP Nathan Cullen, who decided not to run this election. The area remains orange though, as the NDP once again ran the most successful campaign.
|Bachrach enjoyed his win with family and friends at the Smithers Brewing Co. (Marisca Bakker / Smithers Interior News)
Bachrach managed to hold off his main competitor, Claire Rattée of the Conservative Party, outgaining her in the final total by 16,670 to 13,637. Bachrach won 40.9 per cent of the popular vote to Rattée’s 33.4 per cent.
“I’ve had such an intense day. I started out in Prince Rupert this morning, and drove up the Skeena River one more time. I’ve done it a dozen times over the last couple of months,” Bachrach said in his victory speech at the Smithers Brewing Co. bar.
|Supporters showed up at the Smithers Brewing Co. to await the arrival of Taylor Bachrach. (Marisca Bakker / Smithers Interior News)
“I want to start tonight by thanking all of you,” Bachrach said to his volunteers and supporters who had gathered for the occasion. “I’d like to thank our friend Nathan Cullen. Nathan is in Ottawa tonight, but I know there’s no place he’d rather be than here with us,” Bachrach said of his outgoing fellow NDP MP predecessor. “We’ve knocked on thousands of doors over the last few months, and I can’t count the number of times I was told I have big shoes to fill.”
“I want to thank Jagmeet Singh for doing such a good job and bringing positive energy to this campaign, and just lighting people up across the country. I really can’t wait to work with this team of New Democrats from coast to coast,” Bachrach said of his new colleague, and elected party leader, in Ottawa.
|Bachrach has served as the mayor of Smithers since 2011. Now, he is headed to Ottawa to represent Smithers, and the entire Skeena-Bulkley Valley region, on a national level. (Marisca Bakker / Smithers Interior News)
Bachrach stressed a need to seriously address global climate change during his acceptance speech, saying he looks forward to working with the other parties on the matter, and that he hopes they recognize the seriousness of the issue as well. Bachrach also emphasized his desire to achieve universal pharmacare, invoking the words of Medicare founder and former NDP leader Tommy Douglas in his speech.
“I want to thank the town of Smithers for allowing me to be your mayor for the past eight years. It’s been the joy of my life, and such a tremendously rewarding experience,” Bachrach said.
“Tomorrow we’re going to wake up and we’re going to figure out what this adventure means. It’s going to be a heck of an experience, and it’s going to be a steep learning curve,” he said. “But that thing that I’m going to hold in my mind is: the rivers, the people that live in our communities — all the way from Atlin down to Bella Coola — all of these places that we hold so dear. This is a place that’s worth fighting for more than ever.”
“With the people in this room we can do almost anything. It’s going to be a lot of fun, let’s do it together,” Bachrach concluded.
This was Rattée first entry into federal politics, having served four years as a District of Kitimat councillor.
“I think there will be another election soon and I will definitely be running again,” said an upbeat Rattée late on Monday night as the final results trickled in.
“The result shows that people are looking for change. There haven’t been any results for our riding [under MP Cullen].”
She congratulated Bachrach on his win and commended him for running a good campaign.
|Claire Rattee held out for awhile, but eventually acknowledged that victory would not be hers in this election.
“I think there will be another election soon and I will definitely be running again,” said an upbeat Rattée late on Monday night as the final results trickled in. “The result shows that people are looking for change. There haven’t been any results for our riding [under MP Cullen].”
Liberal party candidate Dave Birdi was a relative latecomer to the race, but still managed to finish in third place with 4,704 votes (11.5%). “Running in this election has been an enlightening experience. Spending time in dialogue with communities from Atlin to Bella Coola, Fort St. James to Sandspit. This was an opportunity to engage and learn. New friendships have been formed,” Birdi said.
|Dave Birdi and his family await the election results in Fort St. James. (Aman Parhar photo)
“Thank you to all the candidates and the organizers of the debates for sharing with the communities. Thank you to my family, supporters, and all volunteers contributing many hours of hard work, as well as the Liberal Party for this incredible opportunity to represent Skeena–Bulkley Valley region,” Birdi added.
“It doesn’t surprise me Taylor [Bachrach] is going to win,” said Green Party candidate Mike Sawyer, who placed fourth with a final tally of 3,193 (7.8%). “Good for him. I think he will be a good MP. His commitment during the election was he would show up and stand up, and I hope that he does that.”
|A small but enthusiastic group of Green supporters has gathered at Mike Sawyer's election headquarters in Smithers. (Thom Barker / Smithers Interior News)
Sawyer was less optimistic about his party’s vote total, despite a small increase. “I actually would think we would do better,” Sawyer said. “Historically we’ve hovered around three per cent. I’ll be happy if we’re in the double digits and we’re a little short of that right now.
Rod Taylor from the Christian Heritage Party was the final candidate to hit the quadruple figure mark, finishing in fifth place with 1,343 votes (3.3 %). He gave his advice to the winner as the results came in.
“God has — through the voting process — entrusted him [Bachrach] with a great responsibility. He could exercise that responsibility and begin defending innocent human life. He could use that responsibility and begin supporting traditional marriage which is the building block of society. He could speak up for freedom of speech and the people who are now being restricted in their ability to speak the truth. So those choices will rest with him,” Taylor said.
|A musical number took place in Rod Taylor's basement on election night. (Trevor Hewitt / Smithers Interior News)
People’s Party of Canada candidate Jody Craven, who gathered 929 votes (2.3%) said this won’t be the last time he sets foot on the campaign trail.
“I would like to thank the PPC, my riding, my team and especially my family who didn’t see me for days while I was out on the campaign trail,” Craven said. “Even though I lost, I won’t give up. I will still be involved in the public, taking up people’s issues and concerns. I learned during the campaign that there are a lot of serious issues that still haven’t been addressed – government has to step up and start supporting Skeena-Bulkley Valley.”
|Jody Craven believes it won't be long before another election, and vows he'll be back for another shot at parliament. (Natalia Balcerzak / Terrace Standard)
“We have issues with the forestry industry in the north and a lack of cellphone coverage along Highway 16. We should be doubling up on our healthcare as well,” Craven added. “I will be back again, in 18 months — I won’t give up.”
Independent candidate Merv Ritchie watched the results come in at home on a pair of computer monitors while he ate dinner. Overall he was happy with his numbers, which totalled 155 (0.4%) when all was said and done.
“When I ran the last provincial election I took about five per cent of the vote. It kind of shocked me how well I did,” Ritchie said.
|Merv Ritchie enjoyed dinner as he watched election night unfold.
“With eight candidates running, the fear factor really drives people. I think that’s why people have gone really hard to the NDP again,” Ritchie said.
Fellow Independent candidate Danny Nunes, in typical fashion, made light of his loss. As the votes came in, Nunes was walking around downtown Kitimat playing Pokemon Go. “If that counts as a headquarters,” Nunes said.
“I’m happy I’m not in last place,” said Nunes, who just edged out Ritchie by claiming 164 votes (0.4%). No wizard [Ritchie] can beat Dan the Bear. The turnout was exactly what I expected.” Nunes said this will be his final attempt at politics.
|Mewtwo, but especially the voters, delivered a knockout punch to Danny Nunes on election night.
Approximately 60 per cent, or 39,760, of the 66,421 registered voters in the Skeena-Bulkley Valley turned up to the polls on Monday. This number does not include those who registered on election day, meaning the final total of voters in the riding is somewhere north of this mark.
With files from Jenna Cocullo, Brittany Gervais, Natalia Balcerzak, Thom Barker, Trevor Hewitt, Gerry Leibel, Aman Parhar and Marisca Bakker.
Alex Kurial | Journalist
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