Monday evening, South Surrey-White Rock voters chose Liberal Gordie Hogg to represent them in Ottawa for the next two years, to finish the term that was started by former Conservative MP Dianne Watts in 2015.
While Hogg’s victory did mark a significant milestone – it was the first time that a local majority has supported Liberal representation in this riding since 1949 – it didn’t change the country’s governing party. To be clear, a victory by Conservative candidate Kerry-Lynne Findlay – or any of the five other candidates vying for the seat for that matter – would also have had no impact on that detail.
But in any election or byelection, efforts by candidates to get their names into the public realm, and have their thoughts on issues important to constituents known, are expected – and constituents often proclaim disappointment at what is and isn’t put forward. Such efforts can go a long way to determining the outcome of any vote, be it municipal, provincial or national.
For the federal riding of South Surrey-White Rock, last week’s all-candidates meeting hosted by the South Surrey & White Rock Chamber of Commerce was a highlight in this byelection.
For starters, all of those vying for the seat – including three who confirmed they don’t live locally – showed up, giving hundreds of interested voters in-person, and potentially thousands more online, a better picture of those who wanted to represent them.
Unlike meetings of elections past, the evening was without fireworks. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing, as neither was it boring.
Granted, there were lost opportunities – questions that could have been answered more succinctly, topics that candidates could have been better-prepared to respond to and questions for which simply having an answer would’ve been beneficial to candidates and attendees alike.
But it allowed the candidates who likely didn’t expect to finish in the top two a chance to contribute their messages, and push the expected frontrunners to do better. Under the moderation of Peace Arch News columnist Frank Bucholtz, they discussed, they argued, they cajoled and they held each other accountable.
In a time when some partisan thinkers express concern about “spoiler” candidates splitting their vote, let this byelection in South Surrey-White Rock show how a more-than-two-party system can actually benefit the electorate.
Well done all.