The mood at Hedy Fry’s election night headquarters was bittersweet on May 2 as the longtime MP sashayed to a seventh win, while her party suffered a historic defeat, relegating it to third-party status in the House of Commons.
Fry may have kept her seat, but her lead over her opponents has shrunk considerably since her heyday in the riding. Elections Canada results show Fry won 18,267 votes (31 percent) to beat second-place finisher Karen Shillington of the NDP, with 15,325 votes (26 percent). Conservative candidate Jennifer Clarke finished a very close third, with 15,323 ballots cast (also 26 percent). Green Party candidate Adriane Carr came in fourth, with 9,090 votes (15.4 percent).
Some 58,857 out of 99,527 registered voters cast ballots, a turnout of 59.1 percent in the riding.
“It was a close shave,” Fry acknowledges.
Fry is now one of two Liberal MPs in BC, down from five as the party was reduced to 34 seats overall. The Conservatives won a majority with 167 seats and the NDP is now the official Opposition with 102 seats.
Fry fears that with a majority, Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper will reopen the debate over same-sex marriage and abortion. Capital punishment might even be put back on the table, she warns. “He won’t have to account to anyone.”
“I think it means that the opposition parties are going to have to work harder than ever to try and ensure that our democracy prevails, that Mr Harper with his majority government does not tread on the things that we hold dearly in this country,” Fry says.
As the results showing a Harper majority government came in, the mood at Fry’s election night party at Davie St’s Junction pub was limp, if not dead at times. Only a few Liberal supporters were in sight. Fry was watching results elsewhere.
The mood was punctuated with the occasional cheer when people such as Liberal Justin Trudeau and Vancouver East NDP stalwart Libby Davies were announced ahead, and when Green Party Leader Elizabeth May beat former Conservative cabinet minister Gary Lunn to become Canada’s first Green MP.
The room grew quiet as Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe took to the microphone to concede defeat as the NDP’s orange machine mowed through Quebec.
Fry was greeted with cheers when she eventually arrived to claim her victory. Earlier in the evening, things had looked dicey for Fry. Three hours after the polls closed, she was only about 270 votes ahead of Conservative challenger Jennifer Clarke. “C’mon, Hedy,” someone shouted as she began to pull ahead.
Fry supporter Bobby Bees welcomes her return to office but says he fears what policies Harper might implement with a majority. “I just hope Harper with a majority doesn’t start leading us down a path to becoming the 52nd state,” Bees says. “My gut reaction is we’ve got to get rid of the first-past-the-post [voting] system.”
In the last two elections, 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. This time her lead dropped to only 2,942 votes, as her NDP and Conservative opponents split more than 30,000 votes between them.