Conservative Mel Arnold shows his delight as he is announced winner in his North Okanagan-Shuswap riding Monday evening at his Vernon campaign office.

Election 2015: North Okanagan-Shuswap remains Conservative

Liberals tally second place locally, but win a national majority.

North Okanagan-Shuswap has retained Tory blue while Liberal red has coloured the rest of the country.

Newcomer Mel Arnold handily captured the riding as Conservative candidate Monday, winning   22,233 votes or 38.9 per cent with 245 of 277 polls reporting. That was followed by Liberal Cindy Derkaz at 17,235 or 30.1 per cent, Jacqui Gingras, with the NDP, at 14,738 or 25.8 per cent, and Green Chris George at 2,968 or 5.2 per cent.

“This is terrific,” said Arnold, a Salmon Arm businessman who takes over from retiring Colin Mayes.

“It’s been a hard fought battle, I want to congratulate all the candidates. And no matter how they voted, I’m here to represent this riding.”

With the Conservatives in opposition nationally, Arnold will be in the backbenches.

“It will make us work a little bit harder,” he said, noting that he will lobby the new Liberal government for funding for local projects.

“And I will be available to the public as soon as we have our doors open to the office.”

Nationally, the Liberals won 186 seats or 39.8 per cent of the vote, compared to 103 per cent or 32.1 per cent for the Conservatives, 39 seats or 19.1 per cent for the NDP, 10 seats or 4.9 per cent for the Bloc Quebecois and one Green.

Derkaz welcomes her second-place finish in North Okanagan-Shuswap.

“I would have liked to have won but it was amazing,” said the retired lawyer.

While some opinion polls had the NDP taking North Okanagan-Shuswap, Derkaz believes many residents saw the Liberals as the best route to challenge the Conservatives.

“People had a huge attitude for change from the Harper government,” she said.

In terms of the Liberal victory nationally, Derkaz said, “It’s a tremendously clear message that we want change as a country and we picked the Liberals to put that change into effect.”

Gingras, a university professor, admits she was disappointed by the election results.

“They’re not what I hoped for but I respect their choice,” she said of voters.

“It’s been a very positive campaign and I met so many great people.”

Gingras wouldn’t speculate on why the NDP didn’t win locally.

“That’s something we will have to dwell on. I respect the decision of community members and this is only the start for us.”

She isn’t sure why the party went from official opposition status nationally to third place.

“Like any campaign, there are ebbs and flows. People were motivated to have Harper out,” she said.

George anticipated a fourth-place finish for the Greens in North Okanagan-Shuswap.

“There are no surprises here. We’re looking ahead to the next time out,” he said.

“I would have preferred a minority government nationally because it’s good for Canadians. It (Liberals) is going to be a change but whether it’s the change we’re looking for, that remains to be seen.”

George believes Arnold’s new term as MP could be challenging.

“He will be a backbencher and that doesn’t contribute much to the conversation.”

In North Okanagan-Shuswap, 58,781 of 96,243 registered electors cast ballots or 61.08 per cent (that does not include electors who registered on election day).