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Politics

Cannings says ‘positive message’ helped win narrow race in South Okanagan-West Kootenay

Richard Cannings called it a nervous but wonderful night.

Nervous, because his victory was narrow. Wonderful because he was re-elected.

Cannings won the riding of South Okanagan-West Kootenay for a second term on Monday night, with less than 800 votes separating first from second place.

The incumbent NDP MP had, as of Tuesday morning, 24,304 votes, good for 36.4 per cent of the vote. That was 796 votes more than Conservative candidate Helena Konanz, who placed second.

Konanz had 35.2 per cent of vote at 23,508 votes.

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The official results are still incomplete, with 278 of 280 polls reporting.

Connie Denesiuk was third at 17.2 per cent (11,481) with Tara Howse of the Green Party in fourth at 8.3 per cent (5,520).

“It’s nervous,” Cannings said when asked what it’s like watching the polls come in. “You always want to know where the polls are coming from.

“There are parts of the riding where we do well, there’s parts of the riding where we don’t do so well. So if we get a good poll in from a part of the riding that is difficult for us, it’s a good feeling. If we get a bad result from a poll in an area we should do well in, then we’re concerned.”

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Konanz declined an interview with Global News on Tuesday morning.

Cannings said his campaign was very positive, “about what the NDP was offering Canadians, our commitments — affordable housing, health care, the environment – and I think that resonated with people, obviously enough to take us to the top.

“That positive message, talking about issues that people are concerned about, really resonated with them. That’s what wins elections.”

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In 2015, Cannings won the riding with 37.3 per cent of the vote. The Conservatives were second at 29.8 per cent, with the Liberals third at 28.1 per cent.

On Saturday, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh visited the riding. On Monday night, Cannings was asked if Singh’s visit helped him achieve victory.

“I don’t know. It couldn’t hurt; it was a big blast of a party right here a couple of nights ago,” said Cannings. “We had maybe 800 or 1,000 people, so that gave everybody a morale boost.

“Whether it changed the vote count, I have no idea. But I think that whole message that Jagmeet is giving Canadians the last month has really resonated.”

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