The BC Liberals Tom Shypitka has swept Kootenay East according to preliminary results in the 2020 BC election. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)

NDP wins election, Shypitka sweeps Kootenay East

Kootenay East’s BC Liberal MLA has defied a province-wide surge in NDP support to hold the riding

The 2020 provincial election has now come to a close, with preliminary results pointing towards a thumping majority for the governing NDP and premier John Horgan.

The NDP has swept aside the BC Liberal opposition, with the NDP chewing into BC Liberal strongholds across the province.

The orange wave was dashed against the Rockies here in Kootenay East however, with incumbent BC Liberal MLA Tom Shypitka tightening his grip on the riding.

The preliminary vote count (excluding mail-in ballots) puts him just shy of 60 per cent of the vote compared to 56.5 per cent in 2017, when he was first elected.

Shypitka said it was a “pretty impressive” result for him and his team.

“Of 87 ridings of British Columbia, I believe we’re the riding that’s number one for BC Liberal support,” said Shypitka, adding that given BC Liberal support had been eroded all across the province, whereas support was up in Kootenay East, “we must be doing something right.”

The preliminary vote count shows that Kootenay East saw the strongest support for the BC Liberals (59.71 per cent) with only the seat of (now former) party leader Andrew Wilkinson coming close at 57.19 per cent.

Shypitka said that in this election result he and his team had managed to make in-roads in Fernie – which he lost in 2017.

“In the last poll, our weakest (result) was Fernie. I was going up against a former Fernie mayor so I can understand that to some degree, but this time around we won Fernie apparently, so that was really good.”

Shypitka said that in the next legislature, his approach would be the same as if the BC Liberals were in government, highlighting the issues that are unique to the riding like land access, wildlife and access to healthcare.

“(Kootenay East) Need to make our voice heard that we are a different part of the province, we’re tied a lot to Alberta for commerce and trade and for wildlife and recreation. Sometimes that voice isn’t heard in Victoria or Vancouver.

“Whether its the BC liberals, or the NDP or the Greens, we have to make sure through petitions or hard work or advocacy that government hears it, and they become accountable to those concerns.

“If the NDP is in government – as it looks now – then they need to be aware of that, and if they ignore it, that’s not going to go well for them in the next election.”

The final results of the election will not be known until all of the mail-in ballots are counted, with those votes not to be counted until Nov. 6.

While the mail-in ballots may alter results in other ridings where the race was much closer, it’s highly unlikely the same could happen in Kootenay East, where according to the initial vote count, even if all of the mail-in ballots requested in the riding went to a candidate other than Shypitka, he would still win the riding.

There were 3,236 mail-in ballots requested, while Shypitka’s lead over the NDPs Wayne Stetski is 4,100 votes.

In neighbouring Columbia River-Revelstoke, the BC Liberals’ Doug Clovechok was declared winner with 48.62 per cent of the preliminary vote count, while in Nelson-Creston, the BC NDP’s Brittny Anderson was ahead with 39.86 per cent of the preliminary vote count.

READ MORE: Wilkinson would have been a great premier: Shypitka
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