Tuesday night produced one of the most stunning turnarounds in B.C.'s political history with a B.C. Liberal win that almost nobody predicted, nor thought was possible. Congratulations to B.C. Liberals' Sam Sullivan for his victory in Vancouver-False Creek. Matt Toner of the NDP ran a very professional and admirable campaign. Sal Vetro of B.C. First Party worked extremely hard with his grass roots and visible campaign for every one of his 71 votes. Again, a great job.
Branding was nearly everything in this election. In my opinion few deserved to win as an Independent as much as John van Dongen did in Abbotsford. He reportedly spent over $100k of his own money and really went out on a limb in exposing the details of the BC Rail scandal. Yet election night the thanks this Independent received for his public service and the investment of his own time and money -- was to place B.C. Liberal Darryl Plecas in office from the voters of Abbotsford. A real shame in my opinion, but then life isn't exactly fair and neither is politics.
For our part my all-volunteer team was out working our riding virtually every day. In fact, we were out on the street in the cold until well after dark the day before the election. We had media attention (good and bad), signs in places nobody else did, banners, brochures, newspaper advertising, outbound telephone, social media etc. We worked hard and I believe we had one of the more visible campaigns.
Nonetheless, I spent the first half of a very short campaign explaining to people why I was a B.C. Conservative and how Stephen Harper was NOT the leader of our party. Then -- thanks to a blunder by John Cummins which turned a social media non-issue into a media distraction for those incapable of critical thought -- I then spent the other half of the campaign explaining why I was no longer a B.C. Conservative candidate.
On the branding side, the Green Party could have had Bozo The Clown running and he still would have attracted 9 or 10 per cent of the votes. Most people I encountered had no idea what's in the Green Party platform, nor had anybody I questioned actually read the "Green Book". Never mind the fact the local Green Party candidate never showed up at ONE of the many all-candidates meetings that I attended (even the ones about climate change), this was an election defined by fear and apathy.
I was on the street every day and at no time to me did it look as if the NDP's Matt Toner was going to make it despite the poster boy The Vancouver Sun, and The Province made him out to be.
In terms of fear and apathy, despite what some of the know-it-alls in the MSM would have us believe, I can tell you from being out in the riding every day that, while voters told me they were not going to vote NDP, at the same time they were really angry and were looking for an alternative to Sam Sullivan and the B.C. Liberals.
Vote splitting was more media fantasy. On that subject it's worth noting that vote splitting is really a non-issue when over 50 per cent of constituents don't bother to vote in the riding.
Branding in my campaign was a challenge. In the end it was branding that defined the outcome. The gap narrowed dramatically as voters became fearful of the NDP and the support for the B.C. Liberals then seemed to materialize out of nowhere and galvanize. In fact it was very noticeable in the final 72 hours.
The lesson here is that negative advertising does work and voters still see B.C. as a two party province. Although I was appalled at my own numbers when they appeared after 8 p.m. I suppose I could be thankful I was not a candidate for the parties I came in ahead of. The silver lining in all of this is that the polls were wrong, dead wrong, and perhaps with that in mind the voters of the future will vote with their consciences instead out of fear or what the pollsters tell them.
I am very grateful to everyone who provided their support and help over the last seven weeks. Also thank you sincerely to those who believed in me and put an "x" or a check next to my name on the ballot.