posted Oct 29, 2015 at 3:00 PM
Langley voters made modern history by voting in a Liberal MP to represent them in one of the two Langley ridings.
The last time that any portion of Langley was represented by a Liberal MP in Ottawa was 1953.
The Liberals have had little presence in the area since that time, although in 1968 there was renewed interest in the party when Pierre Trudeau was selected leader, and brought youth and vigour into a party which had been seen as largely the preserve of older men.
Shortly after Trudeau was named party leader (and prime minister, as the Liberals were in power as a minority government under Lester Pearson), he called an election.
As part of that campaign, he held a major rally at Fort Langley, likely the only time there has been a major political rally involving a Liberal prime minister in Langley’s history.
So there is no shortage of irony that under Pierre Trudeau’s son Justin, the Liberals have won 17 seats in B.C. after a similar display of public enthusiasm — 47 years later. Their Langley seat was easily won by John Aldag, who has been a senior manager at Parks Canada’s Fort Langley site.
In the 2011 campaign a much weaker Liberal Party, under leader Michael Ignatieff, received just nine per cent of the vote in the Langley riding in 2011 — 4,990 votes.
The candidate was Rebecca Darnell.
How did the Liberals go from such a poor showing to electing an MP in one Langley riding, and coming a strong second in the other against incumbent Conservative MP Mark Warawa, who won 64.5 per cent of the vote in 2011?
On Oct. 19, Warawa took 45.6 per cent of the vote in the redrawn Langley-Aldergrove riding which should, theoretically, have added Conservative strongholds to his riding.
Liberal Leon Jensen was less than 5,500 votes behind.
There is no question that many voters wanted change badly, and the Liberals were well-positioned to deliver it. They ran a positive campaign, had a younger enthusiastic leader in Justin Trudeau with a well-known name, and put forward policies that appealed to a lot of people.
In addition, the lengthy election campaign allowed them time to find their feet and respond strongly to the varying directions of the campaign. The Conservatives’ negative ads about Justin Trudeau rebounded to his advantage.
Many more people voted, and a lot of them were younger voters. Many had tuned out of past elections.
In Langley, although the Conservatives and predecessor parties have owned the area for decades, their national campaign was weak and there was a lot of unhappiness with party leader Stephen Harper.
Aldag is well-known in Langley and ran a very strong campaign. He also won because the majority of voters in the riding were in the Surrey portion of the riding, which has had a large influx of new residents, many of whom were ready to go to the Liberals.
He has a decent shot at being named to cabinet, although the new cabinet will be much smaller than the old one.
His lengthy experience in working with Parks Canada, and fluent bilingualism, are assets in his favour.
The Liberals will want to strengthen their hold in this area — something that even their most enthusiastic supporters probably can’t fully believe yet.
Frank Bucholtz recently retired as editor of the Langley Times, but he still shares his views on a wide range of topics at frankbucholtz.blogspot.ca.