Election 2008: Liberal’s Oliphant holds the fort in Don Valley West

Don Valley West was one of the few ridings in the GTA that did not have an incumbent candidate running – and it showed in a close race that took longer to call than most others in the GTA.

But in the end the Liberals held on to the riding as first-time candidate Rob Oliphant defeated returning Conservative challenger John Carmichael. Unofficial results put the Liberal at 44.2 per cent of the vote, and the Conservative at 38.9 per cent.

Oliphant said the results were thrilling. He hugged his mother and father – and commented on the increase in his “parish.” Oliphant has served as minister at St. George’s United Church.

“Well, the big change is going to be going from a 1,200-person parish to a 120,000-person parish. So that is what I will be dealing with first,” Oliphant said.

Oliphant continued to be optimistic when discussing the Liberal party as a whole, even though the party saw a decline in its popular vote and parliamentary seat share.

“The results are pretty much as I predicted. They are pretty close to what I was expecting, so I’m not surprised,” Oliphant said. “I think the difference in this minority (government) and the last one is I feel that instead of having lost the election like we did the last time, I now feel like we have been given a mandate to be an opposition, which is a little different.”

Oliphant also took the opportunity to praise his main rival, Conservative John Carmichael.

“I thanked (John) for being a gracious opponent,” Oliphant said. “I want to sit down with him soon and see what he knows about the riding.”

A mere two kilometres away, at the Conservative election party, there was a sombre mood in the room, but Carmichael put forth a brave smile and praised his party’s showing across the country – rather than discuss his own defeat.

“Make no mistake about it, it was the leadership of Stephen Harper that led the way,” Carmichael said. “I’m only sorry that I am not going to be (in Ottawa) to work with him.”

He added, “I don’t like losing, but the reality check is that someone has to lose and someone has to win.”