ZYTARUK: Let’s see how long honeymoon lasts for Liberals in Surrey and Delta

Not long ago, the idea that voters would roll out a Liberal red carpet across Surrey and Delta would have been preposterous

Editorial cartoon by Ingrid Rice. Email your election reactions to edit@thenownewspaper.com

So let it be written…

Well, let’s break it down.

Remarkable stuff was done on Monday night. Not many years ago, the very idea that local voters would roll out a Liberal red carpet across every riding in Surrey and Delta except one would have been preposterous.

This used to be the undisputed territory of Reform, Canadian Alliance, Conservative and the NDP, with the exception of Liberal MP Sukh Dhaliwal, who in 2006-2011 had to be feeling like the political equivalent of a Maytag repairman.

Before him, there hadn’t been a Liberal MP in these parts for time immemorial, if ever.

But the impossible happened Monday, in five of six local ridings, with the Liberal tsunami breaking on Dianne Watts’ doorstep.

The former Surrey mayor and now Tory MP elect in South Surrey-White Rock managed to clamber above the high water mark despite being encumbered by an unpopular leader and a truly ill-advised campaign flyer concerning terrorists.

South Surrey and White Rock have been represented by a small-c conservative, in one incarnation or another, since the place was pretty much a forest. Watts hung onto the “safe” seat for the Conservatives by her fingernails, with 24,934 votes to Liberal Judy Higginbotham’s 23,495.

Accustomed to being The Boss, Watts has to get used to being a critic. The last opposition MP in that neck of the woods was Reform’s Val Meredith, who lost the Conservative nomination to Russ Hiebert in 2004. Watts has her work cut out for her, petitioning a Liberal majority government on behalf of her generally-not-so-needy constituents.

And then there’s Judy Higginbotham.

Judy, Judy, Judy…so close. She enjoyed a healthy run in Surrey civic politics but in the provincial and federal arenas, when you consider the evidence, Higginbotham is doomed to forever be a bridesmaid. They even call it the Higginbotham Curse, and here’s why: She lost running for the provincial Liberals in Surrey in 1983, in 1986, and as a federal Liberal in 1988. In 1991, Higginbotham abandoned her Liberals to run as a Socred in Surrey-Cloverdale, only to be defeated by Liberal candidate Ken Jones.

She then ran for the provincial Liberals in Surrey-Whalley in 1996, and lost to Joan Smallwood. Her volcanic appetite for losing not yet satiated, Higginbotham then lost, again and again, in two more federal Liberal bids in the south riding in 2004 and 2008.

And then there’s Monday. Judy. So near, yet so far.

Even Dianne Watts has to be feeling sorry for you.

Speaking of feeling sorry, Monday night was open season on political incumbents in Surrey and Delta, considering the defeat of NDP MPs Jasbir Sandhu in Surrey Centre, Jinny Sims in Surrey Newton, and Conservatives Kerry-Lynne Findlay in Delta and Nina Grewal in Fleetwood-Port Kells.

Which brings us to the END of GREWALS.

Truly the end of an era, as Surrey has had a Grewal MP since 1997, when Gurmant Grewal was first elected as Reform MP for what was then Surrey Central. He was re-elected in 2000 under the Canadian Alliance banner, and in 2004 as Conservative MP in Newton-North Delta. He didn’t run in 2006, and has been a political sideliner ever since. His wife, Nina Grewal, a three-term MP, represented the Conservatives in Fleetwood-Port Kells from 2004 until she was defeated by Liberal Ken Hardie on Monday.

The Grewals had made Canadian history as the first married couple to serve as MPs at the same time. He was also the first person of Indian descent to hold public office in Surrey.

So for Surrey, and the nation, what now?

Nationally, the Liberals fell from 133 to 103 seats in the 2006 election; from 95 to 77 seats in 2008; from 77 to 34 in 2011, and on Monday, leapt from 36 to 184 seats. What a comeback!

Locally there was one Liberal MP from 2006 to 2011, then none until Monday, and now we have five, four of whom are new to federal politics.

It will be fascinating to see how they represent Surrey and Delta in Ottawa. It will also be fascinating to see how long the honeymoon lasts, considering that majority governments have a tendency to become arrogant, regardless of political stripe.

Let’s hope good things will happen, soon.

So let it be done.

Tom Zytaruk is a staff writer with the Now. He can be reached at tom.zytaruk@thenownewspaper.com

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