Tamara Jansen embraces a supporter after winning the Cloverdale-Langley City riding over the Liberal incumbent John Aldag. (Photo: Malin Jordan)

Year in Review: New MPs take up seats in shakeup of Langley’s ridings

Both Langley ridings are again held by Conservative MPs

Langley got two new Members of Parliament in 2019, as one sitting MP was defeated in the October election, while the other lost his life to cancer.

At the start of 2019, Langley-Aldergrove was represented by Conservative MP Mark Warawa, who had held the seat for more than 15 years.

In January, Warawa announced that he would not run in the next election – he was retiring, with a plan to become a chaplain and focus on people in palliative care situations.

But just months later, in April, Warawa announced online that he was in hospital and facing a cancer diagnosis.

In May he bid an emotional farewell to the House of Commons. Rather than give a retirement speech, he acknowledged that his future had become uncertain.

After speaking about the importance of end of life care for Canadians, Warawa was given a standing ovation and members of all parties left their seats to shake his hand.

Despite surgery, the cancer had progressed too far and Warawa passed away in June. His July funeral was attended by Conservative leader Andrew Scheer and saw friends and family speak of Warawa’s life as a family man, business owner, and politician.

“He’s somebody who instilled in each of us children the value of giving back to the community,” son Ryan Warawa said at the funeral. “Not to look into your own interest but in the interests of others. He was a man of integrity. That is how each of us is looking to live our lives. My father trail-blazed that path for us.”

Tako van Popta became the new nominee for the Conservative Party in the Langley-Aldergrove riding, winning the nomination against a crowded field in May. A longtime business lawyer, he would campaign against the returning Liberal candidate Leon Jensen, NDP’s Stacey Wakelin, and Green candidate Kaija Farstad.

Van Popta won with 47 per cent of the vote to Jensen’s 25.5 per cent, Wakelin’s 16.9 per cent, and Farstad’s 7.6 per cent.

In Cloverdale-Langley City, the battle was primarily between the Liberal’s John Aldag, who had won the newly-created riding in 2015, and Tamara Jansen, the Conservative challenger.

The campaign saw a number of controversies as Jansen’s previous actions or statements surfaced, including her presence at Dutch Christmas events that featured “Black Peter” characters in blackface.

That controversy was largley publicized on Twitter by online comedy persona Ed the Sock.

The Conservatives shot back by pointing out Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s own multiple blackface appearances, which were dominating news coverage at the time.

Aldag slammed Jansen over her views on medical assistance in dying (MAiD), after a video from a few years ago surfaced in which Jansen compared having MAiD in hospices to death camps.

Jansen apologized to anyone who was offended.

The controversies were not enough to keep Jansen from winning in a tight race, that became a fight between Jansen, at 37.7 per cent of the vote, Aldag at 35.2 per cent, with NDP candidate Rae Banwarie taking 18.9 per cent and Green candidate Caelum Nutbrown taking 6.5 per cent.

While Leon Jensen has said he will not run again, Aldag has already announced he plans to run for the Liberal nomination in Cloverdale-Langley City next time.

While local parties debated a number of issues at all-candidate meetings, one thing almost all candidates agreed on was support for extending SkyTrain all the way to Langley City. With a minority government and both Liberal and Conservative MPs representing parts of the route, it’s expected that local MPs will play a part in attempting to get federal funding for the project.

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