Terrace and area voters behaved very much in the same way voters did across Canada in last October’s federal election, with more coming out compared to previous elections and more of those who did come out choosing to vote Liberal.
The Conservatives and NDP both lost a fair percentage of votes in this area compared to 2011, while the Liberal vote count soared.
An analysis of detailed voting results released by Elections Canada shows that the party which lost the most ground on a percentage basis in Terrace was the Conservatives. Their candidate, Tyler Nesbitt, received 1,781 votes, 190 fewer than the 1,971 tally reached by that party’s candidate in 2011. That works out to 30 percent of the turnout last fall compared to 39 percent in 2011.
And while veteran Skeena–Bulkley Valley NDP MP Nathan Cullen was never in any danger of losing his seat, he did see a drop of five per cent here compared to the 2011 election.
Cullen received 2,770 votes which was 156 more than last year but an overall 47 per cent of the turnout, compared to the 2,614 votes or 52 percentage in 2011.
The fact that Cullen’s percentage vote fell despite an increase in the number of people having voted for him in Terrace is reflective of the overall increase in voter turnout, a trend true for both the entire Skeena-Bulkley Valley riding and nationally.
The total count shows 5,927 people voted in Terrace and area in the 2015 election compared to 5,045 in 2011.
And although Liberal Brad Layton didn’t achieve the level of success enjoyed by his party nationally, he was a beneficiary of both the Conservative decline in Terrace as well as the new voters who did turn out.
From 179 Liberal votes in this area in 2011, Layton’s total soared to 1,142 in 2015, a more than six-fold increase or 19 percent of the turnout compared to 3.6 per cent in 2011.
Looking at the whole Skeena-Bulkley Valley riding, in 2015 the NDP Cullen received 51 per cent (22,531 votes), the Conservatives received 24.7 per cent (10,936 votes), the Liberals 18.7 per cent (with 8,257 votes), Greens 3.6 per cent (1,605 votes) and 1.7 per cent for the Christian Heritage Party (780 votes).
Compared to 2011, the NDP received 55.3 per cent, the Conservatives 34.5, the Liberals 3.6, the Greens 3.1 per cent, the Christian Heritage Party 3.0, and Canadian Action Party 0.5.
This is an overall rise in turnout. In 2015, 44,109 people in the riding cast votes of 63,459 eligible voters, while in 2011, 35,237 people cast votes out of a total number 61,043 on the elections list.
According to University of Northern British Columbia political science professor Michael Murphy, “the Liberal strength in general was a surprise to many (including myself). They really surged in the last one-third of the campaign.”
But he said the B.C.-friendly policies woven through Trudeau’s campaign very well might have resonated in the Northwest.
“Trudeau also made quite a few promises that would have appealed to voters up this way, including an inquiry into missing and murdered Aboriginal women, his opposition to Northern Gateway, and his endorsement of the UNDRIP [The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.]”
Murphy also noted that aboriginal voter turnout “was a lot higher than expected in many areas of the country, and this seemed directly linked to anger with Harper’s policies in general, and more specifically, his voting reform law that could have made it more difficult for some aboriginal people to vote.”
Taking a look at First Nations near Terrace:
In Kitsumkalum on the west edge of Terrace, Cullen received 178, Brad Layton 27, Tyler Nesbitt 24, Spratt four, and Jeannie Parnell one vote. In 2011 the NDP got 146 votes, the Liberals 1.0, the Conservatives 28, Christian Heritage 4.0, and Greens 6.0 votes.
Up in the Nass area a similar increase is noted, with 556 voting NDP, 63 Liberal, 15 Conservative and 24 Green, compared to 476 NDP, 10 Liberal, 25 Conservative, 10 Green in 2011.
Along socio-economic lines one can also see certain trends.
In the immediate Terrace area, Lakelse Lake polling, which happens to include some of the region’s most expensive homes, the Conservative vote prevailed. There, Nesbitt received 62 votes while Liberal candidate Layton had 40 and the NDP’s Cullen came third with 36 votes. Green Jeannie Parnell received five votes while no one voted for the Christian Heritage Party’s Spratt.
Cullen dominated on the Southside of Terrace by receiving 474 votes compared to Nesbitt’s 218 votes, Layton’s 184, Parnell’s 25 and Spratt’s 18.
For the rural area generally south of Terrace, Cullen received 116 votes, Layton 76, Nesbitt 46, Spratt 6 and Parnell 3.
Moving up to the Bench, where voters cast ballots at Northwest Community College, Nesbitt narrowed the spread by receiving 530 votes, although Cullen topped the polls with 599. Layton received 345 votes, Parnell 41 and Spratt 16.
Down in the Horseshoe area of central Terrace, the polling station was held at Veritas school where Cullen received 782 votes, Nesbitt 509, Layton 368, Parnell 41 and Spratt 32.
In Thornhill, where residents cast their votes at the Thornhill Community Centre, Cullen gathered in 780 votes, Nesbitt ran second with 588 votes, Layton received 499 votes, Parnell 93 and Spratt 22.