Hogg credits ‘deep roots’ for ending 64-year Liberal drought

MP’s duties kick off with Ottawa meeting Wednesday at 7 a.m.

Liberal Gordie Hogg is the new MP for South Surrey-White Rock after defeating Conservative candidate Kerry-Lynne Findlay in Monday’s byelection.

“This is your victory,” Hogg told supporters during a speech at Boston Pizza in South Surrey. “Thank you so very much for all that you’ve done.”

The historic result marks the first time Liberals have won the local vote in a federal election since 1949, when the Peninsula was part of the New Westminster riding. Since 1974, local voters have sent conservative politicians (as members of the Progressive Conservative, Reform, Canadian Alliance and Conservative parties) to Ottawa.

As well, South Surrey-White Rock held the only one of the four byelections in Canada on Monday in which the vote switched from one incumbent party to another.

Seven candidates were vying to win the MP seat left vacant by Conservative Dianne Watts, who resigned the position in September after announcing a bid for the leadership of the BC Liberal party – a centre-right coalition.

Hogg finished with 14,369 votes (47.5 per cent), compared to Findlay’s 12,752 (42.1 per cent). NDP candidate Jonathan Silveira was third, with 1,478 votes (4.9 per cent), followed by Green Party’s Larry Colero with 1,247 (4.1 per cent). Christian Heritage Party’s Rod Taylor received 238 votes (0.8 per cent), Libertarian Donald Wilson got 89 votes (0.3 per cent) and Progressive Canadian Party candidate Michael Huenefeld garnered 86 votes (0.3 per cent).

Hogg said Tuesday that he doesn’t expect to be officially sworn in as MP until the new year, but that it appears he is assuming duties immediately – he’s been called to Ottawa for a caucus meeting at 7 a.m. Wednesday.

“I didn’t want to leave the community so soon, but they’ve told me it’s important,” he told Peace Arch News. “They’re asking me for my input and comments, which I’m happy to provide.”

The former White Rock mayor and Surrey-White Rock MLA said he was “very pleased to be representing this community now in a third level of government.”

Hogg said he feels very grateful for all the volunteers who worked on his campaign, to support from ethnic communities and from residents in the Panorama Ridge area in the north of the riding and to all the people “whether Conservative or NDP or whatever, who have phoned me during the campaign and said they were going to be supporting me.”

Noting that the result indicated a 3,000-vote swing from the last federal election in the riding, Hogg acknowledged that he may have attracted some of the non-Conservative voters who might have otherwise voted NDP or Green.

“There are so many variables involved in how people decide to vote,” he said, adding that he believed the campaign – including 260 volunteers working on election day – did a good job of getting the Liberal message out.

But Hogg said he believes that his “deep roots” in the community came into play, particularly among people whom he has known for years, and who were calling others to urge their support for his campaign.

“I think that was a whole subtext of the observable campaign,” he said, pointing to the support of noted community activists like Vin Coyne (“he was my first Little League coach”) and Ellen Sinclair (“her husband Hal was on council when I was first elected”).

“I feel very fortunate to have grown up in this community…I feel very blessed to have been part of it and to have been able to contribute and have so many people helping me and giving me good advice.”

White Rock Mayor Wayne Baldwin – who served as city manager during Hogg’s time as mayor in the 1980s and early-1990s, and who made a brief appearance at Findlay’s gathering Monday – tweeted: “Congratulations to Gordon Hogg our new Liberal MP! Well done Gordie – a new challenge for you.”

Some of the top community issues Hogg heard on the doorsteps while campaigning, he said, were “the environment, certainly, housing, health care, transportation,” and Hogg added he will continue to work for a municipal-provincial-federal-funded feasibility study of relocating the waterfront rail route.

Findlay – a former Delta -Richmond East MP who served under Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper as minister of national revenue from July 2013 to November 2015, when she was defeated – conceded at 9:10 p.m. on Monday after the mood of Conservatives gathered at Morgan Creek Golf Course became more and more subdued as they watched Hogg’s lead increase steadily.

“I feel so proud…of our Conservative family, all we’ve done, and all we’ve accomplished,” she told supporters in her concession speech.

“We’ve been heard loud and clear across Canada – this was a byelection that got a lot of interest. It was tough when they called a snap election – we weren’t expecting that.”

Supporters cheered when she vowed that “we’re going to go all the way in 2019.”

“I wish we’d had more time,” she told Peace Arch News.

“The government was, of course, in control of the timetable – they called the byelection on the very (first) day they were able to – I was only (confirmed) as the candidate a week in to a five-week campaign.

“We worked very hard – and we’ll be fighting in 2019, for sure.”

Candidates’ campaigns for election lasted a little over a month – the byelection was announced in early November – and the run-up to Monday’s vote included multiple visits from party leaders. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in support of Hogg, and Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, in support of Findlay, each made two visits to the riding in an attempt to drum up support for their candidates.

The South Surrey-White Rock byelection was one of four taking place across Canada on Monday. The others were in Newfoundland and Labrador (Bonavista-Burin-Trinity), Ontario (Scarborough-Agincourt) and Saskatchewan (Battlefords-Lloydminster).

The Bonavista-Burin-Trinity riding – the easternmost of the four byelections – was the first to have votes counted, with Liberal candidate Churence Rogers holding onto the riding for the incumbent party, after being selected on 69.2 per cent of the 12,593 votes cast.

In Scarborough-Agincourt, Liberal Jean Yip – widow of late MP Arnold Chan, whose death triggered the byelection – won with 49.4 per cent of the vote.

In Battlefords-Lloydminster, Conservative Rosemarie Ashley Falk ran away with the vote, with 69.6 per cent of voters selecting her.

– files from Nick Greenizan

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Conservative candidate Kerry-Lynne Findlay greets supporters after conceding the byelection. (Alex Browne photo)

Conservative candidate Kerry-Lynne Findlay greets supporters after conceding the byelection. (Alex Browne photo)

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