Nathan Cullen surprised everyone except his pollsters by winning Skeena-Bulkley Valley yesterday for the New Democrats, easily defeating both incumbent Conservative MP Andy Burton and islander Miles Richardson, running for the Liberals.
Mr. Cullen received almost 38-percent of the vote, well above Mr. Burton’s 34-percent and the well-back third place showing of 22-percent for Miles Richardson, former president of the Council of the Haida Nation and former chief commissioner of the BC Treaty Commission.
It’s the first time the riding has had an NDP member since Jim Fulton left politics in 1993. He was replaced by Canadian Alliance MP’s, first Mike Scott, then Andy Burton who joined the Conservatives when they recently formed. But the riding has a long history of New Democratic members: islander Jim Fulton held it from 1979 to 1993, and Terrace’s Frank Howard was MP for 17 years, 1957 to 1974.
Mr. Cullen campaigned on the islands the least of any candidate, but his polls had him out in front late last week, although his lead was less than the margin of error, making the race too close to call.
Rod Taylor of the Christian Heritage Party received just under 4-percent of the vote, Green Party candidate Roger Benham took just over 3-percent and the Marxist-Leninist’s Frank Martin less than half a percent.
Nationally, the Liberals will be back in power under Prime Minister Paul Martin, but in a minority government.
We’ll have a more detailed report on results in Skeena-BV and on the islands later Tuesday morning.