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Hedy Fry wins decisively as Liberals sweep Canada for majority

Voters send six LGBT MPs back to Ottawa

Liberal incumbent Hedy Fry substantially increased her winning margin Oct 19, 2015, beating her closest opponent by 20,000 votes, with most polls in the riding reporting. Credit: Janet Rerecich

Vancouver Centre Liberal candidate Hedy Fry sashayed to victory in her eighth straight ballot box win Oct 19, 2015, as the Liberals returned to majority government for the first time in a decade, under prime minister–elect Justin Trudeau.

“It’s fantastic,” Fry says. “Canadians have shown we wanted our country back and we got it back.”

She says Canadians rejected the politics of fear, hate and divisiveness. “They voted instead for someone who had a positive attitude, did not play dirty tricks.”

In taking the riding once more, Fry becomes the longest-serving woman in Parliament after Conservative MP Diane Ablonczy, who decided not to run again.

With 208 of 220 polls reporting by 11:45pm, Fry held a commanding lead, with 30,902 votes compared to 10,684 for NDP candidate Constance Barnes, 9,127 for Conservative Elaine Allen, and 3,108 for Green Lisa Barrett.

In the last election in 2011, Fry beat her closest opponents by only 2,942 votes, as the NDP and Conservative opponents split more than 30,000 votes between them, according to Elections Canada results.

Fry beat NDP challenger Svend Robinson by almost 9,000 votes in 2006, then saw her lead drop to 5,318 votes in 2008 over Conservative Lorne Mayencourt.

Speaking with Daily Xtra, Fry says tonight’s Liberal win means Canada will have a government that will listen to queer voices.

As campaign supporters gathered at The Junction Pub on Davie Street in Vancouver’s gay village, jubilation slowly spread as it became apparent it would be a Trudeau government, 47 years after Pierre Trudeau became prime minister.

The cheers began at 7:18pm as someone yelled “169” as the Liberals were projected to be just one seat from the magic 170 majority number.

Less than a half hour later, the CBC declared a Liberal majority government to a cacophony of cheering and whistling from Fry supporters.

The cheering continued as results showed the Liberals gaining seat after seat. In the end, the Liberals won 184 seats, up from 34 last election. The Conservatives dropped from 166 to 99 seats.

As NDP leader Tom Mulcair conceded defeat and his party returned to third-party status in Parliament, more cheers erupted among Fry supporters. The NDP dropped from 103 seats to 44 seats.

“Canadians made a choice and we accept that choice with humility,” Mulcair said.

As Fry made her entrance, the crowd of several hundred roared, chanting, “Hedy, Hedy, Hedy, Hedy!”

Members of the crowd, many of them gay, were thrilled with the Liberal win.

“It’s a big night,” says Fry campaign worker Paul Nixey. “People are involved who have never been involved before. These are folks that usually don’t care about politics.”

Nixey believes trans-rights legislation to protect gender identity and expression in the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code, introduced by re-elected NDP MP Randall Garrison and supported by Fry, will be reintroduced. The last effort, Bill C-279, died in the Senate.

Nixey also hopes the ban on gay men giving blood may now end.

Former Vancouver parks board commissioner Trevor Loke hopes the Liberal win means four years of government leadership where consideration is given to reasoned and scientific-based decision making.

Loke tells Daily Xtra Canadians responded to Trudeau’s rising above years of personal attacks from opposition parties.

Soon after Fry took the stage for her victory speech, NDP candidate Constance Barnes made her way to the front and congratulated Fry, hugging her as supporters looked on.

“Canada has spoken,” Barnes tells Daily Xtra. “I think it was a good hard fight. I’m still going to work hard for the people of Vancouver Centre.”

Fry, 74, made Canadian electoral history in 1993 when she became the first rookie MP to unseat a sitting prime minister. Kim Campbell had held the Vancouver Centre seat for five years.

Some 52,601 of 86,663 voters cast ballots in Vancouver Centre in 2015 for a turnout of or 60.7 percent, compared to an estimated national turnout of 66.81 percent.

Voters will send six openly LGBT MPs to Parliament, the same total as last election, though with some new and returning faces. Liberal MP Scott Brison retained his seat in King-Hants, NS, and NDP MP Randall Garrison retained his seat in Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke, BC.

Liberal MP Rob Oliphant returns to his seat in Don Valley West in Toronto after a four-year hiatus, having ousted the Conservative incumbent.

And joining them are three new LGBT MPs: Randy Boissonnault (Liberal, Edmonton Centre, AB), Seamus O’Regan (Liberal, St John’s-Mount Pearl, NF), and Sheri Benson (NDP, Saskatoon West, SK).

They replace defeated gay MPs Philip Toone and Dany Morin, who lost their NDP seats in Quebec, and Craig Scott, who lost his NDP seat in Toronto.

After 18 years in Parliament, Canada’s first openly lesbian MP, Libby Davies, did not run for re-election in Vancouver East. Former MLA Jenny Kwan held onto the riding for the NDP.