NDP candidate for North Island - Powell River, Rachel Blaney. Photo contributed

NDP candidate for North Island - Powell River, Rachel Blaney. Photo contributed

Rachel Blaney on her way to victory in North Island – Powell River

Leads with more than 87 per cent of polls reporting

NDP candidate Rachel Blaney appears to be on her way to her third electoral victory, leading the polls in the North Island – Powell River riding in Monday’s federal election.

As of 10:10 p.m., Sept. 20, and with more than 87 per cent of the polls reporting, Blaney had accrued 14,861 votes, 2,063 more than her closest rival, Conservative candidate Shelley Downey who had 12,798 votes. Third place was being held by Liberal candidate Jennifer Grenz with 4,855, Green Party candidate Jessica Wegg fourth with 2,457, People’s Party candidate Paul McKnight fifth with 1,886, Maverick Party candidate Stacey Gastis sixth with 176 and Marxist-Leninist candidate Carla Neal seventh with 61.

“I’m very pleased to be the MP again,” Blaney said on Monday night. “I’m so grateful to my family who has been putting up with all of this craziness for the past six years, and to my amazing team. I had an amazing campaign team and so many volunteers who spent hours on the phones, knocking on doors, dropping information and doing all the things that they do. I’m really really honoured for people’s support in all the ways that they provided it.”

Blaney also acknowledged the close race in the riding, saying “I recognize how amazing our democracy is, because it’s not just my volunteers, but it’s the volunteers from all of the parties who participated in democracy and all the hard work that they did. I’m full of gratitude for being allowed to continue in this very important role.

“We have a riding that has gone back and forth between the Conservatives and the NDP for several generations it seems, so I expect nothing less than that,” she said. “Now that I’m in this role again I’ll continue to do my work and talk with everyone to try and do the best I can for the whole riding.”

Though Green Party candidate Jessica Wegg is currently in fourth place in the riding, she noted she is not disappointed in the process of running for office.

“It was an incredible experience,” she said. “I met so many amazing and committed people along the way.”

She had kind words for her supporters, praising their passion and dedication to a wide variety of environmental issues.

While the result was less than ideal for her, Wegg said there is not much she would change about the campaign.

“It was a snap election, and it was way shorter than anyone expected,” she said. “And it was a pandemic, so we were limited in what we could do.

“I think we did a pretty great job all things considered.”

Conservative candidate Downey and Liberal candidate Grenz have indicated they will be available for comment tomorrow.

Keep in mind that results are still preliminary and there are still mail-in ballots to count beginning tomorrow.

– with files and reporting by Marc Kitteringham, Ronan O’Doherty, Sean Feagan, Erin Haluschak, Tyson Whitney and Alistair Taylor