Denise Savoie, in her new role as a member of Canada’s official Opposition, arrived to greet her supporters, holding her four-year-old grandson’s hand, and closely flanked by four other grandchildren.
“We have experienced an orange wave across Canada,” she said in her address from her makeshift stage — a bar table at the Office Lounge, at 759 Yates St. “That’s really a symbol of the change that millions of people want to see … New Democrats have set the standard for positive campaigning that we’ve never seen before.”
Savoie’s own results in the Victoria riding reflected some of the NDP’s incredible gains. She edged up from 44.6 per cent of the vote in 2008 to slightly over 51 per cent this time.
The Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca riding also went to the NDP.
“I only wrote one speech tonight, and it turned out to be the right one,” a victorious Randall Garrison told his supporters. “I’m really proud of the positive campaign that we ran – and a positive approach is what I’m planning to take with me to Ottawa.”
The Esquimalt councillor outpolled three-time Conservative candidate Troy DeSouza by less than one percentage point. DeSouza lost to Liberal Keith Martin in 2008 by less than 100 votes.
As the national TV news announced Elizabeth May’s election, Savoie’s supporters erupted in cheers and applause that rivaled those at the news of her own victory. The Green Party Leader easily beat out incumbent Conservative Gary Lunn in the Saanich-Gulf Islands riding.
It was a bittersweet victory, however, for Savoie’s supporters, who bemoaned news of Stephen Harper’s majority.
“You did well, but our country’s gone down the drain,” said one woman, giving her thrice re-elected MP a hug.
Victoria councillors Marianne Alto and John Luton also came to support Savoie.
“The tendency of Harper, even in minority, was to ignore opposition,” said Luton, of the mixed feelings in the room.
Savoie acknowledged her new challenges.
“We have to fight to hold them to account,” she said of the NDP’s “somewhat mitigated” success.
Patrick Hunt, the Conservative candidate, placed second in the Victoria riding with about 24 per cent of the vote. He went to Savoie to concede with a handshake and a hug.
Hunt celebrated the news of the Conservative majority. “In four years time, Victoria will want to be part of that marvelous success that we’ve done in Ottawa.”
The mood was more glum at Liberal candidate Christopher Causton’s headquarters. He polled 14 per cent and admitted surprise at being surpassed by Hunt.
“It always hurts if you lose, but in life you have to get used to it,” said Causton, who never lost an election in the 24 years as Oak Bay councillor and mayor. “The Canadian public has spoken and they obviously want a majority Conservative government.”
Jared Giesbrecht of the Green Party was fourth with roughly 12 per cent of the vote.