Skeena - Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen addresses supporters in Smithers following his victory.

UPDATE: Candidates reflect on 2015 federal election

Nathan Cullen has been re-elected as MP for the Skeena - Bulkley Valley riding.

Nathan Cullen has been re-elected as MP for the Skeena – Bulkley Valley riding.

The incumbent MP has received 51.2 per cent of the popular vote, equal to 22,303 votes cast for the NDP candidate, with 217 of 219 polls reporting, well ahead of Conservative Tyler Nesbitt, who has received 24.7 per cent, or 10,758. Liberal candidate Brad Layton, whose party will form a majority government, sits at 18.7 per cent, equal to 8,158 votes, followed by Jeannie Parnell of the Green Party with 3.4 per cent and 1,575 votes and Don Spratt of the Christian Heritage Party at 1.8 per cent, or 770 votes.

Nationally, the Liberals were elected in 184 ridings, well above the 170 needed for a majority government, while the Conservatives were relegated to official opposition status with 99 seats and the NDP fell to 44 seats. The Bloc Quebecois were elected in 10 ridings while the Green Party will hold one seat in the House of Commons.

Cullen called the night of the election a very bittersweet evening.

“It’s been very much a mixed feeling tonight. I am disappointed with our numbers, but pleased to see the politics of fear has been rejected … While very disappointed we weren’t able to form a government as hoped to just a few weeks ago, we are happy Stephen Harper’s platform has been rejected for a much more progressive agenda,” he said, noting he is also relieved to have a Prime Minister who has publicly opposed the Enbridge Northern Gateway project.

“Here in the riding, we’re incredibly encouraged with the numbers we are seeing here. They are still coming in but they are exceeding our expectations.”

The NDP, which was official opposition when Parliament was dissolved, was projected to win approximately 44 seats after leading the race during the early part of the election.

“It feels like this is going to take at least a number of days, if not weeks, to sort out for ourselves … I am very proud of the principled stand our party continued to make even if it meant losing. We are not a party that is going to try and win at all costs,” Cullen said of the drop in seats, noting the Liberals presented a very progressive platform that could have come from the NDP itself.

“It was a very tumultuous election. We just didn’t have that finishing push … We have to be ready to rebuild ourselves and be ready to present ourselves as an alternative, particularly if the Liberals aren’t ready to deliver on the high expectations that they have in front of them.”

As for Cullen, he said it is still to early to consider what role he may play in the smaller caucus or if a leadership race may be in his future, but said he doesn’t see himself not being part of the 2019 election.

“As long as I am effective and as long as I feel people are connecting with the work I am doing, representing the people of the riding is the biggest honour aside from my children and marrying my wife,” he said.

“I will play whatever role I am given in caucus, but I try to focus on telling the story of the people of the Northwest.”

Meanwhile, Conservative challenger Tyler Nesbitt, who ran second, says he’s willing to help Cullen push the new federal Liberal government for results for northwestern B.C.

“Nathan is a voice in the opposition just like we are. We will just see what he can make of it, and if there is anything I can ever do in my capacity to help the people in this region I will certainly have my phone on for him,” said Nesbitt speaking at his Terrace campaign office last night.

Nesbitt said his results had “absolutely nothing to do with my performance and my team and anything we did. It’s that we got caught up in that anti-Conservative, anti-Harper wave. And that’s just what it was. I make no regrets about how we campaigned.”

Liberal candidate Brad Layton, while unsuccessful personally this evening, was in an upbeat mood.

“I’m ecstatic, we needed change and I’m 100 per cent behind the platform of the Liberal party,” said Layton from his Smithers campaign office.

“We’ve already been checked off as elected to NDP here, I’m hoping that Nathan Cullen will work as hard as he can to make sure that we see the benefits with the Liberal government.”

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