What started out as a positive, upbeat evening for Parksville-Qualicum NDP supporters at the Quality Resort Bayside Tuesday night quickly turned sour as the results of the provincial election started to trickle in.
The shock of seeing their candidate, Barry Avis, begin to see-saw and then trail B.C. Liberal Michelle Stilwell was mirrored by the province-wide tally that saw the governing Liberals start the evening in the lead and never look back.
As the television report declared a victory for the Liberals, NDP constituency association president Paul Kyba expressed disbelief.
“I would be shocked (if it were true)” he said. “We don’t know where those returns are coming from.”
In a small act of defiance, party member Dana MacComber wrote “Remember Dewey” on the tally sheet, reminding supporters of the famous incident when the Chicago Tribune newspaper declared Thomas Dewey the victor over Harry Trueman in the 1948 U.S. presidential election.
However, as Stilwell’s lead lengthened, Kyba, MacComber and the rest of the approximately 75 NDP supporters were forced to admit the cause was lost, both locally and provincially.
Avis, who watched much of the coverage at home with wife Hillary, arrived once the results were clear — to hugs and applause from his supporters.
“For a year and a half we fought an excellent campaign,” Avis said in his concession speech. “I’m so proud of all of you. We were straight up front, we were totally positive and didn’t run a negative campaign in any way. I’m proud of that.”
In an interview however, Avis conceded that this positive campaign may have been at least a factor in both his loss and the loss for his party.
“I don’t know what happened,” he said. “We spoke to the key issues — not just here but province-wide. Maybe that other type of politics is more effective. When you are close to it, you know the (Liberal) record and maybe we should have spoken more about it. The whole direction our party took — which I’m proud of — to stay positive, speak to the issues and not have personal attacks is the way politics should be, but maybe to win elections that’s, sadly, not what some people want.”
In his speech Avis congratulated Stilwell, as well as B.C. Conservative candidate David Coupland.
When asked what’s next for him, Avis said he plans to take a couple of days off and continue his family life. However, when asked if he plans to run again for a seat on Qualicum Beach council, Avis said it remains a possibility.
“Qualicum Beach council would certainly be a consideration,” he said. “There is an election coming in a year and a half and I would certainly consider that.”