Liberals flex Metro Vancouver muscle but can't repeat 2015 surge

The Liberals were the big winner in British Columbia Monday night. Global News reporter Richard Zussman looks at the key Metro Vancouver ridings that have flipped political parties after the 2021 federal election.

The Liberals may not have gained seats nationally in the 2021 federal election, but they gained major ground in Metro Vancouver.

As of 11 p.m., the party was leading or elected in 13 seats in the region, up from the 11 they secured in 2019 — though still shy of the historic 16 seats they picked up in their historic 2015 “red wave.”

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The Conservatives saw their 2019 haul of eight seats reduced to just two, while the NDP upped their total from four to five.

You can find full election results here and find your own riding here.

British Columbia’s urban heart is the largest prize west of the Rockies, representing 24 of 42 federal seats in the province.

The vote-rich suburbs, dubbed by some as “B.C.’s 905,” in reference to the bedroom communities around Toronto, can make or break a party in its quest to power or majority government.

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In 2015, on the path to Justin Trudeau’s majority, the “red wave” flipped eight of those key suburban seats and dominated the Metro Vancouver electoral map in a decades-best performance in the region.

Metro Vancouver strength

It was a good night for the Liberals in Richmond, where the party appeared on track to sweep both Richmond Centre and Steveston-Richmond East.

Richmond Centre was one of the few Metro Vancouver ridings the Liberals failed to capture in their 2015 surge, a feat they appeared ready to finally accomplish in 2021.

With 170 of 185 polls reporting on Monday night, Liberal Wilson Miao led veteran Conservative incumbent Alice Wong by just under 500 votes.

If the result holds, it would be a major upset — Wong has held the riding since 2008 and won it by nearly 8,000 votes in 2019.

The Liberals did win Steveston-Richmond East in 2015, but lost it to Kenny Chiu in 2019 by just under 2,700 votes.

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With 184 of 188 polls reporting on Monday night, Global News projected that Liberal Parm Bains handily unseated Chiu by a margin of more than 3,000 votes.

The other major breakthrough for the Liberals was in Cloverdale-Langley City, where Liberal John Aldag looked ready to unseat Conservative incumbent Tamara Jansen.

With 191 of 202 polls reporting, Aldag led by about 1,500 votes.

Jansen won this seat by fewer than 1,400 votes in 2019, while the Liberals won it in 2015. But the BC NDP swept the area in the 2020 provincial election — raising the prospect that demographic changes could make progressives more competitive in the area.

Both the Conservatives and Liberals pledged to fund the completion of the Surrey-Langley SkyTrain in a clear nod to the riding’s importance.

Jansen has also taken several controversial social conservative positions, including using the term “unclean” in a speech against the Liberals’ proposed ban on conversion therapy.

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Elsewhere in the region, Global News projected the party would hold onto other key 2015 acquisitions, including Environment Minister Johnathan Wilkinson’s riding of North Vancouver, and Terry Beech’s riding of Burnaby North-Seymour.

Liberal Ron McKinnon also held onto Coquitlam-Port Coquitlam, one of the closest races in Canada in 2019, when he won by just 390 ballots.

This time, McKinnon made short work of Conservative challenger Katerina Anastasiadis, winning by more than eight per cent.

Veteran MP Hedy Fry was elected in Vancouver Centre for the 10th consecutive time, and cabinet ministers Harjit Sajjan and Carla Qualtrough won again in their respective ridings of Vancouver-South and Delta.

Too close to call

Liberals led in the one riding everyone was watching Monday night, but the race in Vancouver-Granville likely won’t be decided until Tuesday.

As of midnight, Liberal Taleeb Noormohamed led by just a handful votes over the NDP’s Anjali Appadurai in the riding once held by independent and former Liberal cabinet minister Jody Wilson-Raybould.

With Wilson-Raybould not running again, many observers had picked Vancouver-Granville to be an easy Liberal win.

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But Noormohamed had a rough campaign, plagued by questions about his real estate dealings in recent years that appeared to contradict the spirit of the party’s pledge to crack down on home flipping.

With a large number of mail-in ballots still outstanding, the seat could still flip orange.

NDP on track to flip one seat

Vancouver-Granville aside, the NDP’s gains in the region likely did not live up to the party’s ambitions.

The one bright spot for New Democrats was Port Moody-Coquitlam, a seat that the party was a hair’s breadth from capturing in 2019 when Bonita Zarillo fell to Conservative Nelly Shin by slightly more than 150 votes.

This year was a rematch, and with 195 of 206 polls reporting, Zarillo held a nearly 1,500-vote lead over Shin.

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The NDP last held the seat in 2015 under Fin Donnelly, but hadn’t won there previously since 1988.

Elsewhere in the region, New Democrats held onto seats in Burnaby South — home of party leader Jagmeet Singh — New Westminster-Burnaby, Vancouver East and Vancouver Kingsway.

Tories virtually shut out

Monday was not the night Erin O’Toole and his Conservatives were hoping for in Metro Vancouver.

In 2015, the Tories were reduced to a single seat in the region. In 2019, the party failed to make gains as big as it hoped, but still significantly increased their presence by picking up another seven seats in the Vancouver suburbs — a performance they had hoped to expand in 2021.

In the end, the party did better than the 2015 wipeout, but not much.

Conservative Kerry-Lynne Findlay held onto her seat of South Surrey-White Rock — former Surrey mayor Dianne Watts’ old seat and the Tories’ only Metro Vancouver seat in 2015 — defeating Liberal Gordie Hogg by more than 2,000 votes.

It was the third time the two had sparred — Hogg won the seat in a 2017 byelection, only to lose it to Findlay in 2019.

And the Conservatives were able to hold Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge, where Marc Dalton fended off a challenge from New Democrat Phil Klapwyk by more than 2,400 votes.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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