By David F. Rooney
Last Monday’s federal election resulted in, as everyone knows by now, an overwhelming victory for former Sparwood Mayor David Wilks over another former mayor, Mark Shmigelsky of Invermere.
Wilks received 23,910 votes while Shmigelsky received 14,199. Liberal Betty Aitchison received 1,496 votes, Independent Brent Bush received 636 and the Green Party’s Bill Green received 2,546
But how did Revelstoke and the other major centres vote?
Here in Revelstoke Shmigelsky was the favourite, with 1,218 votes, over Wilks who received 1,186. Local New Democrats congratulated each other on winning back the city, which they had lost to former MP Jim Abbott, but their local victory had a mere 32-vote margin.
Locally, Independent Brent Bush received 41 votes, Liberal Betty Aitchison received 201 and Green Party candidate Bill Green received 246.
One local factor that may have played a role in Wilks’ loss in our city was the fact that he did not attend the All-Candidates Forum. However, he won handily in Kimberley — where he also failed to attend a forum — by 1,229 to 1,106.
The narrow margin of victory in Revelstoke was reflected in Invermere where one would expect Shmigelsky to have a huge advantage. He won that town with 545 votes against Wilks’489. Again that’s a very narrow margin of just 56 votes.
Wilks may have been an unknown outside the Elk Valley and Golden, where he served as an RCMP officer for several years, but he had the clear advantage of succeeding Jim Abbott as the Conservative Party candidate. Abbott, who served 18 years as the Kootenay-Columbia MP in the House of Commons was generally well-respected throughout the riding and much of that influence clearly carried over to Wilks. The other factor in Wilks’ favour was the ideological split in Kootenay-Columbia. Cranbrook and the south country are populous and pretty staunchly Conservative.
How Wilks will fare in the Commons and as the riding’s MP remains to be seen. But voters will clearly let him know in 2015.
Below you will find the vote tallies for Wilks and Shmigelsky in the riding’s major centres. You can click here to see a PDF of Elections Canada’s poll-by-poll results for the entire riding and all candidates.
Radium Hot Springs
Invermere, Panorama and Windermere
Wilks 897 489 in Invermere alone
Shmigelsky 929 545 in Invermere alone
Fernie, West Fernie and Fernie Ski Hill