NDP Candidate Garry Begg’s Sobering Election Night in Surrey

Kyrsten Downton / The Runner

It should have been a celebratory night for the NDP at the Aria banquet hall in Surrey, BC. Supporters, volunteers, and family members of three Surrey-based MP candidates, including Garry Begg of the Fleetwood-Port Kells riding, filled the lobby and main hall. There should have been people embracing and congratulating each other. Aria hall should have been filled with laughter and cheers.

Instead it was quiet.

People were walking around with heads hung low, only raising them to watch the election coverage on the big screens throughout the hall. Food and drinks were quietly served as people talked amongst themselves. There was no celebration.

The NDP started the election campaign with high expectations, coasting off of the “Orange Wave” of the 2011 campaign that made their party Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition to the Conservatives. It was thought, early on in the election cycle, that the NDP would likely be the party to unseat Harper’s government.

After the 2015 election, however, the NDP dropped to 44 seats, taking up only 13% of Parliament, and losing the Official Opposition status. At the Aria banquet hall, all three NDP candidates lost in their respective ridings, and two of them lost their seats in Parliament.

“We are a little bit disappointed in the results, but we ran what we considered to be a very good campaign.” said Begg. This was Begg’s first time running in a federal election. He retired as an RCMP inspector almost a year ago last November, which is what he focused his campaign on.

“The issues in Fleetwood-Port Kells and in all of Surrey, I think, were crime and the desire to get rid of the sitting MP, and by extension the Prime Minister. That was certainly accomplished and hopefully now there will be more time to work on the crime file.” said Begg.

Kyrsten Downton / The Runner

However, he was up against top competition in his riding—namely Nina Grewal of the Conservative Party, who has been the riding’s MP since 2004, and the candidate who ultimately took the riding this election, Ken Hardie of the Liberal Party.

“I always thought it was very competitive. It was a very respectful campaign and I think we got caught by a rising tide.” said Begg. Indeed, the Liberal party won a majority government with 184 seats in Parliament, a groundbreaking conclusion to what is already being considered a historic election. This election was the longest in Canadian history, lasting 78 days, and some people argue that the unusual length of this campaign may have been a contributing factor as to why the Conservatives and the NDP lost as badly as they did.

Begg, however, did not put the blame on the length of the campaign.

“To run in a campaign that lasted 11 weeks is a long time, and normally it’s considerably a lot shorter. But I think things unfolded as they should. I’m good with the length and the way everything happened.”

Clearly, this was not the outcome the NDP and Begg had wanted. However, it would seem they are simply putting it past and getting back to work. Yes, it was quiet and sombre at the Aria hall, but it was also without blame or attack. Nobody fell to the floor crying, kicking or screaming.

“It’s disappointing always when you lose but it is an election and people make choices,” said Begg.

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