Okanagan-Shuswap NDP candidate Nikki Inouye (middle) celebrates her party forming the official opposition to the Conservatives Monday night alongside her husband Craig and agent Janet McInnes (right) and family and friends at her campaign office.

Okanagan-Shuswap NDP candidate Nikki Inouye (middle) celebrates her party forming the official opposition to the Conservatives Monday night alongside her husband Craig and agent Janet McInnes (right) and family and friends at her campaign office.

Orange crush Liberals in historic vote

An orange revolution swept the country Monday night, marking a historic moment for the NDP.

Jack Layton’s party surged across the country as the NDP bumped the reds (Liberals) back to form official opposition to the Conservatives.

“As NDP members, we won,” exclaimed local NDP candidate and hospital cook Nikki Inouye. “The most seats in 50 years is a huge accomplishment and that accomplishment has come about from Jack Layton’s positive message.

“I’ve never been so happy to be an NDP member.”

NDP wrapped up the evening with 102 seats (up dramatically from 36 in 2008), behind the Conservatives with 167 seats, but ahead of the Liberal’s 34 and the Bloc’s four.

Locally, Inouye garnered 14,961 votes (26.4 per cent), behind Conservative Colin Mayes who topped the polls with 31,443 votes (55.4 per cent).

“I’m very happy with those numbers, they’re better than the last election (10,664 NDP votes in 2008),” said the rookie NDP candidate.

“Those numbers show me that there’s people in the riding that are looking for change.”

Green Greig Crockett came third at 6,063 (10.7 per cent) and Liberal Janna Francis sunk to 4,246 (7.5 per cent).

As official opposition to the Conservative stronghold, New Democrat supporters were thrilled as they joined Inouye in her 30th Avenue campaign office Monday night.

“You dream of it,” said Nick Hodge, president of the NDP Okanagan-Shuswap Riding Association. “It’s a big pay off, finally.”

Lorne Adamson, voter contact for the local NDP, has been working the NDP scene since 1979 and is encouraged by the results.

“This is a huge step. This is what Ed Broadbent dreamed of doing in the mid ‘80s,” said Adamson of the former NDP leader.

“It gives us some hope for the future.”

Keeping his eye on the polls and watching the Liberals fall, Adamson added: “I don’t think it’s a very fun night to be a Liberal.”

Inouye agreed.

“Ignatieff defeated – what a headline.”

Meanwhile another staunch party supporter had his hopes set on an even bigger orange crush.

“I’m disappointed that they (Conservatives) got a majority. I don’t like those figures,” said Dave Richardson, a scrutineer whose NDP support dates back to stuffing envelopes for the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (which later became the NDP) at five-years-old. “But it looks like we gained ground anyway.”

Inouye made a special presentation to Richardson for all his years of work and support for the party, along with thanking her family and the countless people who volunteer their time.

Having spent part of her campaign out-of-town, Inouye also thanked Alice Brown (who was the NDP candidate in  the last two elections) for stepping up in her absence.

“The work you put into this campaign, it was like you were the one running.”