Orange Crash: McLeod Beats Bevington

It’s not true, if it ever was, that a rising tide floats all boats; it launches many, swamps others, or pushes them into backwaters.

The historic and unexpected Liberal wave that swept away Stephen Harper and raised Justin Trudeau to the prime minister’s office produced the same surprising result in the Northwest Territories.

Throngs of voters built a tsunami of support for Michael McLeod that pushed incumbent MP Dennis Bevington on to the rocks and sank Conservative Floyd Roland at the dock.

McLeod, a former cabinet minister in the territorial government and brother to Premier Bob McLeod, got 9,166 votes to Bevington’s 5,845 and 3,415 for Roland.

In the last federal election. Bevington got 7,145 votes to 5001 for Conservative Sandy Lee and 2,872 for Liberal Joe Handley, a former premier.

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The North voted Liberal, from Nunavut to Yukon, and McLeod told the CBC that he will make his case for a seat in Trudeau’s first cabinet.

“My goal is to have a bigger role than just sitting on the back bench. I want to be involved, I want to be part of decision-making,” said McLeod, who wants to get land claim talks back on track.

Tlicho leaders endorsed McLeod and the aboriginal vote may have played a significant part in his victory.

Never in doubt

Last night, the outcome was never in doubt. The first clutch of polls reported to the NDP campaign headquarters set the trend for the evening: Liberals: 40.9 percent, NDP: 37.8, Conservatives: 17.8.

“No way!” someone said, as the numbers were posted. “It’s a long road ahead; we’ll get it.”

When Bevington’s campaign co-chair Ben MacDonald rolled in minutes later with retired MLA Bob Bromley, their expressions said resignation, not celebration.

National results showed an orange crash, not the crush of the last election, and poll scrutineers had passed on the bad news from Yellowknife where Bevington built his victory in the last election.

“We were about 10 votes behind on every poll; about the same number of votes then went Green,” said Bob Wilson, who watched over the St.Pat’s polling station.

In the end, Green candidate John Moore was not a factor. He got just 535 votes.

Looking forward, not back

Bevington’s reaction was a mixture of personal disappointment and optimism for the future.

“The good news is that Harper is gone,” he said.

Stephen Harper was prime minister for the decade Bevington served as MP, but the past four years were “especially hard. People wanted to get rid of Harper, that was the most common expression at the door.”

“I’m glad to see the backside of Stephen Harper in Canadian politics. I had little respect for him in any way. The Canadian people chose what they saw as the most likely way to get rid of him.”

Bevington has “three businesses that have been left alone for many years. I’m tremendously interested in how to convert the Northwest Territories to renewable energy. I have lots of things to do. I am looking forward, not back.”

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