VANCOUVER — The map of election winners in British Columbia mirrored the political spectrum after Monday's election — NDP on the left, Conservatives on the right and Liberals down the middle.
Vancouver Island and the northwest were the literal left coast, going exclusively to the New Democrats apart from the Green party's Elizabeth May in Saanich-Gulf Islands.
On the right side of the map, the Conservatives held on to ridings in resource-rich northeast B.C. and the Southern Interior, save for a few that went Liberal or NDP.
And in B.C.'s urban centre, Metro Vancouver, the Liberal wave swept through, unseating a number of Conservative and NDP incumbents.
"I think we listened, we talked to a lot of people, we felt the momentum build,'' said Liberal Carla Qualtrough after beating National Revenue Minister Kerry-Lynne Findlay in Delta, south of Vancouver.
The Liberals won all but one Surrey riding, South Surrey-White Rock, where the Conservatives ran a star candidate, immensely popular former Surrey mayor Dianne Watts.
In Vancouver South, Liberal Harjit Sajjan — a highly-decorated veteran who served in Afghanistan — toppled Conservative MP Wai Young, whose comment that Jesus would support Bill C-51 made headlines this year. Ridings in North and West Vancouver also swung Liberal from Conservative.
Hamish Telford, associate professor of political science at the University of the Fraser Valley, said the Liberal and Conservative split is clear in B.C.
"It's a real urban—rural divide,'' he said. "The Liberals really are the party of urban Canada and they were able to capitalize on that.
"The rest of the province is going to feel unrepresented in a Trudeau government. And that's going to cause a certain amount of anxiety.''
The mood was sullen at an NDP post-election gathering in Vancouver as crestfallen crowds watched the results roll in. They sat mutely as the Liberals' red tide crept across the country.
Joy MacPhail, a longtime New Democrat and former opposition leader in the provincial legislature, said she was disappointed as she thought Tom Mulcair would become prime minister.
"I think the lesson learned is that Canadians wanted change and the change message of the Liberals seemed to resonate across the country.''
The atmosphere was decidedly more festive just a few kilometres away, where Liberals had packed into a Vancouver pub to celebrate their stunning return from the political wilderness.
"All of us who won tonight won because Justin Trudeau's coattails are very long,'' said Hedy Fry, elected for her eighth straight term as Liberal MP in Vancouver Centre.
"[Trudeau] was a man who oozed trust and honesty and bold vision and that ability to dream again, and everybody wanted to dream again. And I think that's what turned British Columbians.
"I also think there was a little piece here that said, 'He's our boy. He's a B.C. boy."
Trudeau's grandfather was popular B.C. politician James Sinclair and Trudeau worked as a teacher for a time in Vancouver, connections that were highlighted in his speeches in the province.
Justin Kaiser, president of the Young Liberals of Canada, said Trudeau inspired a strong youth turnout by fighting for more accessible higher education and legal marijuana.
"Justin Trudeau had a message. From the moment he became a Member of Parliament he's been fighting for youth.''
Former Liberal health minister Ujjal Dosanjh credited the party's victory to Trudeau's hard work and ability to connect with Canadians — but warned he shouldn't take it for granted.
"On the whole, we have to stop believing we are the natural governing party and Mr. Trudeau knows that,'' he said. "I'm sure he knows that he can't afford to be arrogant.''
B.C. had six new ridings in this election due to boundary changes. Among the most hotly-contested was Vancouver Granville, where strategic voting group Leadnow sparked controversy when it endorsed the NDP candidate Mira Oreck, despite Liberal Jody Wilson-Raybould placing ahead in some polls.
Wilson-Raybould, a former B.C. Assembly of First Nations regional chief, won on Monday with about 9,000 more votes than Oreck.
In the Yukon, Liberal Larry Bagnell was elected decisively with more than double the votes of his Conservative challenger. Bagnall lost the 2011 election to Conservative Ryan Leef.
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