VICTORIA – Green party leader Elizabeth May has pulled off a remarkable upset to defeat Conservative cabinet minister Gary Lunn and become her party’s first elected MP in history.
"I stand here today as the first elected Green member of Parliament in Canadian history," she told supporters after receiving the news tonight.
"Today we proved that Canadians want change in politics. We ran a very non-partisan campaign, we ran a cooperative campaign."
May, 56, led from the first poll to oust the minister of state for sport who won the past five elections in the riding.
Despite being barred from the federal leaders’ debate and largely ignored by the national media, the lawyer and former executive director of the Sierra Club built momentum throughout the campaign. In an all-candidates meeting in Sidney last month, she was clearly the most popular politician on stage, earning a partial standing ovation from the crowd of more than 700.
May was leading Conservative cabinet minister Gary Lunn by more than 2,000 votes with 90 of 245 polls reporting just before 9 p.m.
Green said her party has rejected the politics of fear.
"We need hope over fear, we need compassion over competition," May said. "We are elected to serve the people of Canada."
Elsewhere on Vancouver Island, Conservative and NDP incumbents were leading in four of the other five ridings. Tory James Lunney was in a fight in Nanaimo-Alberni with the NDP’s Zeni Maartman, while Conservative cabinet minister John Duncan was beating the NDP’s Ronna-Rae Leonard in Vancouver Island North.
NDP incumbents Jean Crowder in Nanaimo-Cowichan and Denise Savoie in Victoria seemed safe bets to hold their seats with their party achieving unprecedented levels of support across the country.
In Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca, the lead continued to change hands between Conservative Troy DeSousa and the NDP’s Randall Garrison. DeSouza, a Crown prosecutor, lost two previous elections to Liberal Keith Martin, who announced in November that he would be stepping down after representing the riding for 17 years.