It was a good night for the Conservative Party yesterday — both on a national and local scale. Stephen Harper won a majority government, and here in the Kootenay-Columbia riding Sparwood Mayor and Conservative Candidate David Wilks was elected to become the new Member of Parliament with a strong lead.
Results for the riding were finalized around 11 pm last night, with Wilks getting 23, 880 votes (56 per cent) and Shmigelsky trailing behind in second with 14, 161 votes (33 per cent).
Green Party Candidate, Bill Green, won 6 per cent of the vote with 2, 532 ballots cast, while Betty Aitchison, who ran for the Liberal Party, received 1,492 votes (3.5 per cent).
Independent Candidate Brent Bush, who announced just a few days before the election that he was throwing his support behind NDP Candidate Mark Shmigelsky, won 1.5 per cent of the vote with 643 ballots.
Voter turn out in the Kootenay Columbia riding was 64.3 per cent, just above the national average of 61.4 per cent. The 2008 federal election saw just under 59 per cent of voters casting a ballot.
“I am honoured, and really looked forward to working with all the constituents in our riding,” Wilks told The Golden Star on Tuesday morning. “I can assure you I will work as hard as I can in the next four years to show my worth in this riding.”
Wilks will step down from his position as Mayor for the District of Sparwood tonight and make his first trip to Ottawa next Tuesday. The first thing he will work on as MP is continuing to funding Trans-Canada Highway upgrades.
“It’s so important to get the highway up to today’s standards,” said Wilks.
As for the Conservative majority, Wilks— not surprisingly — is pleased.
“Canadians have spoken. They’ve said they want a stable, majority government and they’ve chosen the Conservative Party to do just that.”
Shmigelsky, on the other hand, said the Conservative majority was one of the “downers” of election night.
“We knew there was a chance that splits in the vote would work against Canada, and in this case it did,” said Shmigelsky. “It’s unfortunate that a Prime Minister who was found in Contempt of Parliament is rewarded with a majority government, but the people in our country spoke and this is the end result.”
Shmigelsky does not feel like he closed the gap between that Conservatives and NDP in this riding as much as he would have liked to.
“We went to every forum, and met people everywhere,” said Shmigelsky. “One of the most frustrating parts was that in a lot of these situations, people were living in desperate conditions but were still strongly supporting the conservatives and in a sense, voting against themselves.”
Shmigelsky is urging Kootenay residents to pay attention to federal politics in the next four years.
There was a lot of buzz from both the candidates and voters in this riding around Wilks attendance at the All Candidates meetings. Wilks told The Golden Star that it all came down to scheduling.
“What I could have done better is provided people with my calendar to show how booked I was” said Wilks. “It was a tough 36 day grind. I couldn’t make every event and it was by no means out of spite. I had to make priorities, and the first in queue was the first in queue.”
Wilks spent the evening of the election at his Cranbrook campaign office. His favourite part of the evening as when his son called him from Afghanistan to congratulate him.
“I’d like to congratulate the other candidates for putting up a tremendous fight for their parties. I’d like to especially thank Mark Shmigelsky, who I worked with for three years at the RDEK. I wish him nothing but the best in the future.”
Check the www.thegoldenstar.net for the reaction from other the candidates later today.