More than 800 people packed the Grand Taj Banquet Hall in Newton on election night, hoping recent opinion polls had been right.
It turns out, the polls vastly underestimated the level of Liberal victory across the country, as Justin Trudeau and his Liberals sailed to a majority government on Monday.
In Surrey, the NDP lost their two seats to the Liberals, and the one bright light for the Tories in this area was found in South Surrey-White Rock, where former Surrey mayor Dianne Watts (below) squeaked through to a win – by just 1,439 votes – over Liberal Judy Higginbotham.
Newton was a microcosm of what was being projected in the polls.
The last time Newton went to war in a federal election, it was a race too close to call among the three main parties.
In 2011, the NDP’s Jinny Sims took the riding, edging out Liberal Sukh Dhaliwal by less than 1,000 votes.
In turn, Dhaliwal squeaked past Conservative candidate Mani Fallon to take second spot by only 73 votes.
The riding lines have since been redrawn, and poll-by-poll analysis showed Dhaliwal would have won under the current boundaries of Surrey-Newton. The NDP support mostly came from the other side of Scott Road.
But that was four years ago, and since then, many political watchers believed Sims had since built a lot of political stock.
And Conservative Harpreet Singh brought with him significant public profile as a journalist and political commentator on JoyTV.
Another tight three-way race was predicted.
On election night, the Grand Taj Banquet Hall was packed with Liberal supporters hoping to show the Grits were still strong.
The results exceeded even the most optimistic.
Before the polls had even closed in B.C., news stations had already predicted a Liberal victory. The only question was whether Trudeau’s team would get the 170 seats needed for a majority.
By the end of the night, the Liberals roared past that milepost, taking 184 seats.
In Surrey, the Grand Taj erupted as a victorious Dhaliwal – who won the riding by 13, 265 votes – entered the banquet hall.
Looking extremely excited, Dhaliwal told The Leader, “It’s a new era and prime minister in Justin Trudeau.”
Asked how he felt about his victory, he was circumspect.
“I have to wait and see, because this riding has a big advanced poll,” Dhaliwal said. (Advanced polls are usually counted last, and can have a significant effect on the final count).
The atmosphere was decidedly more glum over in Fleetwood-Port Kells, where Tory incumbent Nina Grewal was handily defeated by the Liberals’ Ken Hardie, who won by 8,568 votes.
At Grewal’s office (left), supporters of the only MP the riding has ever had didn’t stay to watch the results.
Grewal, first elected in 2004 and re-elected three times, left her Fraser Highway office at 7 p.m., just as polls were closing in British Columbia and major television networks began forecasting a Liberal majority government. Roughly 45 minutes later, supporters conceded defeat and headed for home, leaving behind an empty canopy in the parking lot and a couple of campaign staff members to clean up.
One seat that was expected to remain Conservative even with a Liberal victory was also swept up in the Liberal red tide. Cloverdale-Langley City was won by Liberal John Aldag, who had 45 per cent of the vote, 10 per cent more than Conservative candidate Dean Drysdale.
Another upset occurred in Surrey Centre, where Liberal Randeep Sarai took the riding by 6,482 votes, unseating incumbent NDP MP Jasbir Sandhu.
Sarai said Monday night he was not so much surprised by the win in Surrey Centre, but was quite taken aback at the resounding mandate given to the Liberals federally.
“I was hearing it on the steps… the voices were saying they want change,” Sarai said. “But by the magnitude, yes I am very surprised.”
He said his priority is a promise he made on the hustings.
“My first order of business is I promised the citizens of Surrey Centre that within 60 days I’d create a task force on crime, and I’m going to live up to that,” Sarai said.”Let’s figure out what the core issues are and let’s deal with them.”
The Conservative in Delta also fell to the Liberals, with incumbent MP Kerry-Lynne Findlay losing her seat to Carla Qualtrough, who won by a margin of 9,247 votes.
In South Surrey-White Rock, Conservative supporters declared victory for Watts shortly before 10 p.m., at Pasta Vino restaurant in Peninsula Village.
In celebrating the win, Watts said she will “represent this riding and I will take the issues of the people of this riding forward to Ottawa.”
She acknowledged that the Liberal win nationwide means “change is afoot,” but said she is proud of the Conservatives’ legacy – including the lowest taxes in 50 years – and that her party will hold the Liberals to their word.
“I know that there were a lot of promises made in this election and I also know that we will hold them to account,” she said.
As for close contender Higginbotham (above), she said she is “delighted” with the overall Liberal trend across the country.
“ I feel like Canada is coming back home,” she said, noting this election was not about the economy, but about values.
“Dreams can come true,” she said.
John Aldag, LIB 24,599
Dean Drysdale, CON 18,816
Rebecca Smith, NDP 8,426
Scott Anderson, GRN 2,246
Turnout: 70.2 per cent
Carla Qualtrough, LIB 27,480
Kerry-Lynne Findlay, CON 18,233
Anthony Devellano, GRN 1,764
Jeremy Leveque, NDP 8,306
Turnout: 75.1 per cent
Ken Hardie, LIB 22,841
Nina Grewal, CON 14,273
Garry Begg, NDP 10,461
Richard Hosein, GRN 1,555
Turnout: 65.6 per cent
South Surrey-White Rock
Dianne Watts, CON 24,934
Pixie Hobby, NDP 5,895
Judy Higginbotham, LIB 23,495
Larry Colero, GRN 1,938
Bonnie Hu, Libertarian 261
Brian Marlatt, PPC 108
Turnout: 74.4 per cent
Randeep Sarai, LIB 19,474
Jasbir Sandhu, NDP 12,992
Sucha Thind, CON: 8,546
Jeremiah Denault, GRN 1,488
Keven Pielak, CHP 557
Iqbal Kahlon, COM 133
Turnout: 61.3 per cent
Sukh Dhaliwal, LIB 24,869
Jinny Sims, NDP 11,604
Harpreet Singh, CON 6,976
Pamela Sangha, GRN 975
Turnout: 68.6 per cent
– with files from Rick Kupchuk, Melissa Smalley, Alex Browne and Tracy Holmes