NDP incumbent Fin Donnelly carried the day in the riding of New Westminster-Coquitlam, edging out Conservative challenger Diana Dilworth with 46% of the votes cast.
It was a lead that grew slowly but steadily through the night as the first of 255 polling stations in the riding began reporting in shortly after 7:30 p.m. Monday.
In the end, Donnelly, a former Coquitlam city councillor, defeated Dilworth, a current Port Moody city councillor, 23,023 votes to 20,806.
In third was the Liberals' Ken Beck Lee, who collected 4,068 votes, followed by the Green Party's Rebecca Helps with 2,160 and Marxist-Leninist Roland Verrier with 95.
A handful of NDP supporters watched the televised returns at Sokela Restaurant on Austin Avenue - where both Donnelly and Mark Ireland, the NDP candidate in Port Moody-Westwood-Port Coquitlam met with supporters - and cheered as the NDP orange crowded out the Conservative blue, first by just 50 votes, then growing to a commanding lead as the night wore on.
At the other end of Austin Avenue, a considerably larger crowd of Dilworth supporters gathered at Original Joe's restaurant, the candidate making an appearance just after 9:15 p.m. to concede victory to Donnelly.
Before her conciliatory speech, Dilworth quietly and privately thanked her supporters and the 45-year-old told The Tri-City News there was nothing that she would have done differently in her campaign.
"I had an amazing team of volunteers that were so inspired and really believed in a Conservative majority," Dilworth said, crediting her door-to-door campaign with getting out the vote and growing the Conservative base in New Westminster-Coquitlam since the 2009 by-election.
Indeed, Dilworth's vote total of 20,806 was more than double the 8,730 she collected in the byelection while Donnelly's 23,023 on Monday was almost double the 12,171 he earned in his first outing in 2009. As well, Liberal Lee's total this time was up 1,540 votes more than in the byelection while Helps' total for the Greens this week was up 1,113.
"We left nothing on the table," she said. "We ran an exceptional campaign and we didn't win. That's politics. That's democracy. No regrets."
Dilworth even showed off a pedometer on which she said she clocked a total of 350 km of walking while knocking doors in her riding.
And while Dilworth supporters' moods were bolstered if not by victory locally then by the Conservative majority parliament won across Canada, back at Donnelly's NDP election party, the candidate gave a brief speech thanking his supporters and volunteers while wearing his "lucky" neon orange and green tennis shoes and drinking Orange Crush - the orange-flavoured pop whose name had recently become a moniker for the huge wave of NDP support that swept Canada during this election campaign and swept the Liberal party out as Canada's official opposition in Parliament.
Despite the massive gains the NDP made nationally and Donnelly's convincing win over the Conservatives in New West-Coquitlam, the 44-year-old said there are still gains to be made within his own riding.
"We've heard loud and clear the concerns in this riding of affordability, HST, health care, environmental protection... these issues they obviously want me to keep pursuing in the house," Donnelly said. "We did very well getting our vote out in Coquitlam and Port Moody but in New West, there's still some improvement there, so we've got to work harder there."
Donnelly attributed his party's diminished numbers in New Westminster to the personal popularity of the previous NDP candidate, Dawn Black, who left to become the provincial MLA for New Westminster before Donnelly first won his seat in the 2009 byelection.
Liberal Lee, who also ran in that byelection, said he was surprised by his party's national showing on Monday. The results, he added, should be a wake-up call for Liberals across the country.
"I feel crushed," he told The Tri-City News. "I have seen many times... when a party becomes too confident, this kind of thing happens."
Lee said Canada was becoming more polarized and feared the country was moving toward a more American style left-right paradigm.
In a text to a Tri-City News reporter, Helps commented on the win by Green Party leader, Elizabeth May, in the riding of Saanich-Gulf Islands, where she defeated longtime Tory cabinet minister Gary Lunn to achieve her party's first federal election victory.
"I am so happy Elizabeth won," said Helps. "Her team worked hard and Canada was behind her.
"It is a new day in Canada. This shows that Canadians want change. Now that Greens know this is possible they need to keep working at it."
- with additional reporting from Gary McKenna
THE RESULTS FOR NEW WESTMINSTER-COQUITLAM
Fin Donnelly, NDP - 23,023 (45.9%)
Diana Dilworth, Conservative - 20,806 (41.5%)
Ken Beck Lee, Liberal - 4,068 (8.1%)
Rebecca Helps, Green - 2,160 (4.3%)
Roland Verrier, Marxist-Leninist - 95 (0.2%)
Voter turnout: 50,152 of 85,028 registered voters (60.3%)
(The number of registered electors shown here does not include electors who registered on election day.)