Scott Fraser’s NDP supporters gather at the Steelworkers Hall in Port Alberni to await news that Fraser has been elected as MLA for the new riding of Mid Island-Pacific Rim. ELENA RARDON PHOTO

BC VOTES 2017: Scott Fraser wins Mid Island-Pacific Rim

UPDATE: West coasters hope for more focus on their issues as Fraser takes back his seat

Susie Quinn

Elena Rardon

Karly Blats

Andrew Bailey

Black Press staff

In one of the most lopsided races of the entire provincial election, incumbent Scott Fraser retained his seat in the legislature, winning the Mid Island-Pacific Rim riding.

Fraser has held the MLA seat in the mid-Island for 12 years, and through different boundary shifts.

He made history with his re-election as MLA on Tuesday.

“This is a brand new riding,” he said, after the votes were called in. “And no one has ever won this riding before. And it just went to the NDP. And it went there resoundingly.”

Fraser first earned his, then-named Alberni-Qualicum, position in 2005 and all three of his previous victories have been by more than 4,000 votes.

The Mid-Island Pacific Rim riding includes not only the Alberni Valley, but the village of Cumberland, Hornby and Denman islands, Coombs/ Errington, Fanny, Buckley and Union bays, Royston, Tofino and Ucluelet.

“It’s probably the most diverse riding, demographically and geographically, in the province,” said Fraser.

“Where our polls are coming in, we’re winning everywhere,” he said, after being declared, very early into the evening. Fraser was one of the first declared winners in the province.

“We’ve won this riding for the first time in history. It’s an honour to get that confidence of such a diverse group of people. I’m looking forward to representing them all in the legislature, whatever happens with the final result.”

Preliminary results after all 94 polls were recorded reported that Fraser won with 11,662 votes. Darren DeLuca came in second with 6,196 votes, and Alicia La Rue finished third with 4,865 votes. Julian Fell of the BC Conservatives received 842 votes, Rob Clarke of the Libertarian Party receieved 283 votes and Dan Cebuliak of the BC Refederation Party received 76 votes.

A final count, which will include mail-in and absentee votes, will be done between May 22–24.

Fraser said he has spent the last 28 days travelling from coast to coast in his riding, meeting people and listening to them. “The message that the NDP have delivered is about hope,” he said. “It’s about a government that will actually represent people, not just the wealthy, not just the well-connected, not just the top two percent. That message is powerful, and that’s what we’re gonna do.”

Fraser was also complimentary of his other competitors during this election. “We had six candidates in this riding,” he said. “Although I may not agree with them, I do respect them all. We’ve had a great slate of candidates.”

Despite not being the next MLA for Mid Island-Pacific Rim, Green Party candidate La Rue plans on continuing to work towards making an impact on the world.

She said she wasn’t surprised when Fraser took the win but she’s still proud of all the Green supporters.

“This is definitely an NDP riding,” she said. “I think that we did really well.

“I’m really happy for all the people that helped me out and I’m really proud of everyone who voted for the Green Party. I do believe that this is a start, there’s going to be more to come.”

She said running for MLA was “a blast.”

“Everyone has a different reason for voting Green… but those who I know voted for Green also voted for me…I think those people really know the type of person that I am and the type of leadership ideologies that I have,” La Rue said.

DeLuca retiring

Liberal candidate Darren DeLuca said he plans to retire from politics after running in two provincial elections but being beat by the NDP both times.

“We really thought we needed a change in the riding,” DeLuca said after hearing the results. “We’ve had 12 years of NDP and the same representative and we thought it was time to give somebody else a chance.”

DeLuca said media coverage regarding a Dogwood Initiative that leveled allegations against him due to his guide outfitting ties may have had something to do with his loss.

“It wasn’t a Dogwood initiative it was an NDP…they had it sitting and waiting,” DeLuca said. “We knew it was coming. I’m in the guiding industry, I know how that stuff works so we were aware they were going to take that hit. I think it was effective and a lot of the reason why I think you see a lot of support for Alicia. I think it was the repetition of it more.”

DeLuca gave many thanks to his supporters who came out and volunteered, put up signs and made donations.

“We’re disappointed that we couldn’t bring them the results they wanted but that’s politics,” he said.

DeLuca plans now to focus on his personal businesses and hang up his political hat.

“I’m retiring from politics,” he laughed. “I went in twice and I didn’t do it because I needed the job, I did it because I thought I could help the community. I think you have to read the writing on the wall.”

Residents of Cumberland, one of the newcomer communities to the Mid Island-Pacific Rim riding, are still getting used to the idea of being packaged with the Alberni Valley.

Cumberland May Leslie Baird looks forward to working with Fraser and said if his interest in the community during his campaign is any indication, it will be a good relationship.

“Scott has worked very hard representing his riding in the past and I know he will represent the new riding with the same dedication. Scott spent a great deal of time in Cumberland during the election campaign.”

“It feels a bit strange to be separate from the rest of the Comox Valley but on so many levels we still work together and cross over,” said engaged Cumberlander Meaghan Cursons.

“On the upside, we’ve gained an effective and experienced MLA who is a great fit for the village. I really look forward to working with Scott. The margin doesn’t shock me, it affirms one of the reasons I love where I live. Cumberland has this really potent working class-meets-environmental consciousness personality, and so do the other Mid Island-Pacific Rim communities. It’s a fun riding to be in.”

BC Election 2017BC Votes 2017

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Scott Fraser of the NDP gives a thumbs up prior to joining his supporters at the Steelworkers Hall in Port Alberni, Tuesday night. Incumbent Fraser has won the seat for the Mid Island-Pacific Rim.

Supporters gather at Darren DeLuca’s BC Liberal headquarters in Port Alberni, awaiting BC Election results. KARLY BLATS PHOTO

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