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Fry fends off Mayencourt to win Vancouver Centre

Hedy Fry won her sixth successful election tonight, marking another victory for the 15-year Liberal incumbent in the high-profile Vancouver Centre riding.

Fry delivered her victory speech to a crowd of supporters sipping Hedy Fry martinis at the Majestic Lounge on Davie Street well before official results were announced. At that time, she had secured 5,242 votes, putting her 1,660 votes ahead of Conservative candidate and former Vancouver-Burrard Liberal MLA Lorne Mayencourt.

While pundits speculated that NDP candidate and UBC political science professor Michael Byers would be Fry's toughest competitor, Fry said Mayencourt was the one she was watching most closely. "I always thought it was going to be Mayencourt," she said. "And it was."

Still, Byers and Green Party deputy leader Adriane Carr put up a strong fight. "We had known names and known faces. That always makes a difference," Fry said.

And with yet another minority Conservative government established in Ottawa, Fry says challenging the prime minister will be her biggest priority.

"I'll fight the hardest I've ever fought against Stephen Harper," she said.

But UBC political scientist Fred Cutler questions Fry's effectiveness in Parliament, despite her stronghold on the Vancouver Centre riding.

"I don't expect her to play a huge role in the Liberal party," Cutler said. "In a way, she's going to be associated with the Liberal party of the 1990s. The Liberal party of 2008 needs to think about rebuilding."

Cutler attributes Fry's victory less to her individual credibility as a politician and more to her longstanding presence in Vancouver Centre, with left-of-centre voters fearing Conservative representation.

"It's a case of Hedy Fry having the record of being the MP for a long time now, and many of those left-of-centre voters thinking that she was the best shot," he said. "They may have been worried that Mayencourt might win the seat."

As for Mayencourt's Conservative run, Cutler doubts that Mayencourt himself expected a victory. "I don't think at the bottom of his heart he ever thought that he could win," he said, adding that running in Vancouver Centre served the party more than it did Mayencourt as an individual.

"The riding is, in a lot of places, quite affluent, and I think it's a reflection of the Conservative strength in western Canada in general," he said. "[Vancouver Centre] is not a typical central-city riding. It's next door to Vancouver East, but they couldn't be more different, really."

Jackie Wong writes for The Westender

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