The Liberals lost some political ground in Surrey on Monday night but still managed to see three incumbent MPs re-elected in what will be a strong Liberal minority government, with the Conservatives redelegated to official opposition.
Fleetwood-Port Kells MP Ken Hardie, Surrey Centre MP Randeep Sarai and Surrey-Newton MP Sukh Dhaliwal will return to Ottawa. Gordon Hogg – the Liberal incumbent for South Surrey-White Rock – and John Aldag, who has represented Cloverdale-Langley City since 2015, will not.
Surrey voters on Monday night added some Tory blue to the local red Liberal palette, electing Conservatives Kerry-Lynne Findlay in South Surrey-White Rock and Tamara Jansen in Cloverdale-Langley.
This isn’t Findlay’s first political rodeo. A lawyer and former Delta-Richmond East MP, Findlay served under Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper as minister of national revenue from July 2013 to November 2015, and was also associate minister of national defence.
In 2015, Surrey elected four Liberal MPs and one Conservative MP, Dianne Watts. Hogg made the local Liberal sweep complete in 2017, winning a by-election to fill the vacancy Watts left when she resigned as MP to run for leader of the BC Liberal Party.
Hardie suspects this next parliament, though it will be led by a minority government, might have a longer lifespan than some might think.
“My guess, playing amateur political pundit here, is the NDP will be quite content to ride this minority government for a while,” he told the Now-Leader on election night.
“They had a bit of a burst at the end there, but they’ve got a lot of work to do, a lot of rebuilding to do and they don’t have money to run another campaign, so I think unless somebody does something that they really, really don’t like, they’re more likely to team up with us to make sure that things get done.”
On Monday, at 11:45 p.m., the “natural governing” Liberals were leading with 157 seats (170 are needed for a majority) while the Conservatives had 122, the Bloc Quebecois 32, the NDP 24 and the Green Party, 3.
Nationally, the Liberals fell from 133 to 103 seats in the 2006 federal election, from 95 to 77 seats in 2008, from 77 to 34 in 2011, and in 2015 jumped from 36 to 184 seats.
This time out, the Liberals’ strength dropped by 28 seats, as of 11:45 p.m.
Dr. Stewart Prest, a lecturer of political science at Simon Fraser University, with Canadian politics and democratic institutions among his areas of expertise, had predicted Canada’s next government will be a minority.
“It was actually a little stronger than I thought the Liberals might do. It was really hard to say with any kind of certainty what the result would be other than a minority seemed likely simply because so many of these ridings were pretty close.
“Given the Liberals are quite close to that majority line they can work with a number of partners to get to that majority,” Prest said. “They can play the other parties off one another a little bit. That’ll give them a bit of breathing space.
“So if any of the other parties is not ready to go for another election – if they feel like they have no money, or position, or leadership, then the Liberals should be able to get through any confidence votes that come along. So I think that suggests this will last at least 18 months, would be my guess. That’s about the median lifetime of one of these minority governments.”
Meantime, after being re-elected to a second term Sarai said his focus will be on “moving Surrey Centre forward.”
He reflected on his first term, and “a lot of great investment” concerning post-secondary education, an RCMP forensic lab for Surrey, $1.6 billion for Surrey SkyTrain and more.
“I want it to be the second downtown of the Lower Mainland, one of the safest places in the province and one of the most affordable places to live.”
Sarai said he will continue to strive to make Surrey “not only a place where people can live, but go to school and learn right here in this riding.”
Dhaliwal, who is embarking now on his fourth term as a Liberal MP, though not consecutive, said he began his campaign 10 months ago with the slogan, that Family is Your First Team.
“From day one, we knew it would be a hard-fought campaign,” he said.
“Surrey-Newton will be Liberal once again.”
For her part, Jansen said she’s “excited to get into Ottawa and start working and see what we can do. It’s an incredible blessing.”
Findlay, looking ahead to returning to Ottawa, albeit in opposition, said her camp “made a big effort.”
“We’ve worked hard and I’d say we left nothing to chance,” Findlay said, addressing a crowd of supporters on election night.
“We just kept working right up to the very end and that kind of work and dedication and passion really pays off.”
– With files from Amy Reid, Tom Zillich, Malin Jordan