At around 11 p.m. Monday night, veteran Richmond MP Alice Wong wasn’t quite ready to throw in the towel on her career in parliament.
With only a handful of polls still to report in her Richmond Centre riding – where the 73-year-old Conservative candidate has won four previous elections – Wong was 693 votes behind her Liberal rival and rookie Wilson Miao.
But with more than 11,000 votes expected to be counted by Saturday from advanced and mail-in ballots, the result is far from a foregone conclusion for Wong.
“I’m not admitting defeat yet,” an upbeat Wong told the Richmond News at her campaign office in Parker Place.
“It’s way too early to call. It reminds me very much of 2015, the numbers are very similar. We still don’t know.”
Wong was, of course, referencing the knife edge battle of six years ago against the Liberal’s Lawrence Woo, who had led the race until the last few polls.
Liberal's Miao containing excitement
Meanwhile, over at Miao’s small gathering at a restaurant on Hazelbridge Way, there was restraint in any talk of victory in unseating the four-term Tory MP.
However, it was clear that Miao and his team were significantly more optimistic than their rival across town.
Miao, a first-timer at politics, said he was “feeling good” after seeing the last few polls come in, with him leading by 693 votes (as of 11:45 p.m. Monday with two polls to report).
He said he was grateful to Richmond Centre voters for believing in him.
“I think everyone who knew me, trusted me,” he said.
If Miao does end up taking the seat, he will be part of a Liberal minority government.
“I’m hoping I have the chance to listen to more people and bring back that voice to Ottawa,” he added.
Running in the election gave Miao a lot of experience, he said, and he hopes to take that to Parliament.
There is, of course, the possibility of a recount come Saturday, should the gap be less than 500 votes.
Asked why she thought she had lost an 8,000-vote (almost 22 per cent gap) winning margin from the 2019 election, Wong cited several reasons.
But she highlighted what she called a larger campaign which labelled her party as “anti-Chinese” and may have cost her votes among the local Chinese-speaking electorate.
“Our hard stance on China might have played a role but I’m still cautious about the result,” said Wong.
“And Wilson had a much stronger connection to Richmond than previous competitors.”
She added that the election – which appears to have produced a status quo minority Liberal government – was totally “not needed.”
“That money could have been given to the poor and needy and to fight the pandemic,” said Wong.
“But history shows that Opposition parties can still be a major factor.”
She said she is exhausted from campaigning and will take a break between now and Saturday, when the rest of the ballots will be counted.
184/185 polls reported:
Wilson Miao (Liberal): 11,661 (39.4 %)
Alice Wong (Con): 10,970 (37.1 %)
Sandra Nixon (NDP): 5,292 (17.9 %)
Laura Gillanders (Green): 971 (3.3 %)
James Hinton (PPC): 676 (2.3 %)
-With files from Maria Rantanen and Alvin Chow