Penticton NDP dreams fizzle on election night

As final votes counted, Dick Cannings was not ready to concede, although his Liberal rival had been declared elected by some news outlets.

Supporters of NDP candidate Richard Cannings watch the on-screen results closely as the final numbers come in at the party’s celebration room at the Lakeside Resort on Tuesday night. Cannings did not attend until after the results were in.

Supporters of NDP candidate Richard Cannings watch the on-screen results closely as the final numbers come in at the party’s celebration room at the Lakeside Resort on Tuesday night. Cannings did not attend until after the results were in.

Like most of the pollsters, a video monitor at the Penticton Lakeside Resort apparently got it wrong Tuesday when it mistakenly identified a ballroom there as the site of a B.C. NDP victory party.

Neither an NDP government nor the victory celebration seemed fated to materialize, with both the party and Penticton candidate Dick Cannings on track for second place finishes in the provincial election.

As of 10 p.m. with 115 of 184 local ballot boxes counted, Liberal Dan Ashton had collected 5,175 votes versus 4,378 for Cannings. That equalled 47 per cent of the popular vote for Ashton compared to 40 per cent for Cannings.

Still, the NDP candidate remained optimistic.

“We’re not conceding at this point. We have some advanced polls to come in and we’ve done well in them, so we’re going to see how that pans out,” Cannings said in a phone interview shortly before 10 p.m.

“It certainly hasn’t gone as well as we thought, but we still think there’s an opportunity.”

The campaign marked his first shot at elected office.

“I enjoyed the race. It was a good, well-fought, clean race locally and I congratulate all the other candidates here,” Cannings said, adding he was thankful for those who volunteered on his campaign.

Province-wide, the Liberals were on pace to form a majority government as of press time. Most reputable pollsters had predicted an NDP government.

The Liberals also appeared set to win all three ridings in Kelowna, plus Boundary-Similkameen.

In Penticton, about 30 local NDP supporters were gathered around 8:30 p.m. to watch results arrive on projection screens set up inside the resort ballroom.

Most held out hope for a win, despite Cannings trailing early on.

“Why should I be nervous? I’m confident.” said Eberhard Notz, 86, who worked on the campaign.

“This is the last time I can do something for the NDP, because the next time (there’s an election), if I’m still alive, I’ll be 90.”

Jean Duhamel, another long-time supporter, was similarly optimistic.

“All the polls said that we should win,” said Duhamel, who quickly took a shine to Cannings once he was nominated.

“I didn’t know too much about Dan, and I heard Dick speak a few times and I just liked what he said.”

Others, however, felt doubt creeping in along with the first results.

Laure Neish, a longtime friend of the Cannings family, said she felt “not too good” as the Liberals jumped out to an early lead.

“I’m quite surprised to see how well the Liberals are doing. Maybe I’ve been living in an NDP bubble for the last month,” she said.

Neish described Cannings as “a person of great integrity and intelligence, and I just wanted someone who wasn’t a career politician, and someone who’s interested in the environment and sustainability.

“I’d like somebody who represents me, and so far I feel very disenchanted with all the candidates who run in this province, because so many are same-old, same-old. I want something new and different,” she continued.

“There’s still hope, but I’m kind of shaking my head at this point.”