Wilson edges Weston in Whistler riding 

Strahl easily takes Pemberton riding

By Andrew Mitchell

Conservative John Weston led the race for the West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky riding early in the evening, but when Monday’s federal election was over Liberal Blair Wilson had claimed the long-time conservative seat.

At one point Wilson was up by more than 1,200 votes, but as he learned the hard way in the 2004 federal election, all the votes have to be counted.

Two years ago some in the media had called that race for Wilson when he led by almost 900 votes, before the results from polling stations on the Sunshine Coast could be tabulated. In the last hour Conservative John Reynolds pulled ahead, beating Wilson by 687 votes.

That didn’t happen this time around. Although his lead shrunk slightly, Wilson stayed on top to take the riding by a margin of 986 votes (all results still unofficial).

The NDP Party lost some ground in this election with Judith Wilson getting 12,766 votes, about 400 fewer than in 2004. The Green Party under Sylvaine Zimmermann also lost some ground with 3,996 votes, compared to 5,886 votes for Andrea Goldsmith in 2004.

Anne Jamieson of the Marxist-Leninist Party earned 155 votes, or 32 more than in the previous election.

Federally, the night was a loss for the ruling Liberal Party, although they didn’t lose as many seats as some polls and pundits suggested in the wake of the sponsorship scandal, income trust scandal, and concerns about recent spending commitments. Liberal leader Paul Martin announced that he would be stepping down as party leader, but would continue to represent voters in the Montreal riding of LaSalle-Emard.

Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party will form a minority government with 124 seats, well shy of the 155 seats required for a majority government.

The Liberal Party will form the official opposition with 103 seats, followed by the Bloc Quebecois with 51 seats and the NDP with 29 seats. One independent, a radio personality in Quebec City, also won a seat.

Bucking the predictions of most pundits, Canadians turned out in droves to vote on Monday, exceeding the turnout of the previous election by well over a million votes.

Nationally, 14,815,680 voters cast ballots out of 22,812,683 registered voters, for a turnout of 64.9 per cent. In 2004, the turnout was just 60.9 per cent.

In Whistler’s riding, 60,543 of 90,802 registered voters cast ballots in 2004 for a 66.7 per cent turnout. For the 2006 election, the turnout was 63,635 of 92,784 registered voters, or 68.6 per cent.

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