An admittedly tired yet elated Don McRae accepted his second term as Liberal MLA for the Comox Valley late Tuesday night, defeating NDP candidate Kassandra Dycke by nearly 1,800 votes.
“Adrian Dix came to town (Monday) and he said the NDP have never formed government without winning the Comox Valley. And he was right,” said McRae to a jubilant crowd of supporters.
As only one of two Liberal MLAs elected on Vancouver Island, McRae addressed the overwhelming provincial Liberal win during his acceptance speech at his election party at the Best Western Westerly Hotel.
“They said in Alberta, and the polls were wrong. They said in Ontario, and the polls were wrong. The federal government, the polls were wrong. The American presidential election, and they got it wrong,” he noted.
“I am so pleased to say, every pollster in British Columbia got it wrong.”
McRae defeated Dycke with 12,817 votes to her 11,024, taking 44.69 per cent of the popular vote to 38.44 per cent for the NDP.
Green Party candidate Chris Aikman received 3,292 votes, and BC Conservative Party candidate Diane Hoffmann received 1,548.
“We worked so hard … 28 days ago, we were down 20 points. Today, we’re up 20 seats,” he added.
“If you ask me to describe how I feel right now? A little tired. We’ve worked so hard to identify our vote, and I must say to the Comox Valley residents, I’m sorry for all of the phone calls,” he noted to media.
McRae said he worked to identify the voters, and thanked the other candidates for running strong, respectful campaigns.
“I must say to the other candidates who ran in this election — thank you. You ran a very honourable campaign. We did not get to the stage of criticizing or critiquing each other,” he noted, and asked his supporters to reach across party lines.
“You ran great campaigns, and at the end, the Comox Valley is one big community … we’re all Comox Valley, we’re all British Columbia,” he added.
McRae said despite the more than 15,000 votes split between the other three Comox Valley parties, he will continue to listen to the concerns of all constituents in the area.
“I always see myself as a very approachable MLA, someone who’s out there going to invitations, whether they’re in a hall or in a home, people come to the office. I serve all residents of the Comox Valley, and I want people to know that. I think they’ve seen that in the last four years, and nothing’s going to change.”
He added one of his first priorities is working a plan for St. Joseph’s Hospital, as the Comox Valley will be in a unique situation by having an empty hospital in 2017, following the opening of the new Comox Valley Hospital.
“What I want to see now is, can we transition that into something that’s going to benefit our community? A senior’s centre of excellence or a senior’s care centre for the north island is what very few places will have and something I’m going to work very hard for the next four years.”