- Our Town
Weston wins West Van-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country
At times during the night, John Weston looked like he was a hockey fan cheering on his favourite team. Dressed in a Canucks jersey, the Conservative winner of the West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country riding sat glued in front of the television at his campaign headquarters in Dundarave on May 2, watching the poll results scroll across the screen. Every time his team scored, a cheer would erupt. He’d smile, looking more and more relaxed as Team Stephen Harper racked up the goals.
Only an hour after the polls closed, his campaign manager, David Bromley, was declaring victory. An hour after that the score was Weston 25,214, NDP Terry Platt 12,893, Liberal Dan Veniez 12,309 and Green Party Brennan Wauters, 4,043. Instead of going into over-time like the Canucks, the celebrating went into overdrive.
Bromley says that Weston had won 90 per cent of the polls, and most of them by a two-to-one margin. The only polls Weston had lost – to Veniez – were on Bowen Island.
“We had the finest of leaders, the finest of platforms, the finest of places to live and the finest of volunteers,” he told the crowd with his wife Donna and sons Shane, 14 (a Justin Bieber lookalike), Jake, 12 and 10-year-old daughter Meimei by his side.
“So that means,” the two-time winner said, “that we have a great responsibility going forward.”
Over at Veniez’s election night headquarter at Beach House Restaurant, the mood was subdued, as if everyone couldn’t believe the results. The Liberal candidate arrived just after his leader Michael Ignatieff had conceded defeat. At first he was anxious and it wasn’t long before it became clear that Weston was going to win. Not only that, but runner up was the NDP’s Platt, who was watching the results in Gibsons.
Veniez didn’t blame his loss on his own campaign, but rather what was taking place nationally. “I wouldn’t really change anything. Everyone was surprised at what occurred nationally.”
He was proud, however, to have been an candidate under the leadership of Ignatieff. He said the campaign shifted in the last week when polls showed a surge in NDP support. He says this prompted some voters to turn to the Conservatives to avoid the “orange wave.”
“We can never, ever take the Canadian population for granted,” Veniez said. Although there was much mudslinging between him and Weston, he doesn’t think that affected the way people voted.
Speaking to the crowd of about 50 people, he said, “I can’t say that it has been fun because it hasn’t been fun, but it’s been an incredible learning experience, and it’s been a tough one.”
While Veniez’s campaign might have been surprised by the results, at Weston’s campaign headquarters was buoyant and optimistic right from the start, especially since the national results were so strongly in their party’s favour.
Bromley said he wasn’t surprised that Platt was second in the polls. “She lives in the riding and that’s important,” he said. “Terry’s a good person.”
But his faith was in his own candidate from the start. “John is one tremendous candidate. He worked his heart out. John today spent his time on Sechelt covered with an umbrella and waving at people.”
Weston says his campaign was all about continuing with the country’s economic recovery at a time when everyone was thinking about their jobs.
He praised his leader, his family, his campaign team, including 600 volunteers, and the people of the riding.
Weston, a lawyer, made his first bid for federal politics in 2006, losing by just 1,000 votes to Liberal Blair Wilson.
Shortly before the 2008 election was called, Wilson switched his allegiance to the Green Party, becoming that party’s first Member of Parliament. Wilson ran as the Green Party candidate in 2008, coming in fourth.
Weston won the 2008 election with 27,000 or 44.57 per cent of the votes. Liberal Ian Sutherland came in a distant second with 16,000 votes followed by NDP candidate Bill Forst, who won five more votes (8,728 to 8,725) than Wilson.
At 11 o’clock on Monday night, the vote was as follows:
Conservative John Weston: 28,613 votes or 44.5 per cent of votes, roughly the same percentage of votes as in 2008
NDP Terry Platt: 14,716 votes or 23.4 per cent, up nine per cent for the party compared to 2008
Liberal Dan Veniez: 14,103 votes or 22.34 per cent, down four per cent from the previous candidate in 2008
Green Party Brennan Wauters: 4,597 votes or 7.3 per cent, roughly half the votes that Wilson got in 2008
PCP Roger Legasse: 342 votes or 0.5 per cent.
With files from Rebecca Aldous