Nathan Cullen retains NDP seat

Monday night was bittersweet for Skeena-Bulkley Valley incumbent Nathan Cullen.

Though Cullen was re-elected with a strong mandate to represent the northwest, his was one of a fraction of seats the NDP was able to retain as the party dropped from official Opposition to third-party status.

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"It's been very much a mixed feeling tonight," said Cullen from an election gathering in Smithers, moments after party leader Tom Mulcair's concession speech.

As of 9:30 p.m. Monday, with 151 of 219 polls reporting, Cullen had 54 per cent of the votes over his opponents. Preliminary results gave the party 42 seats, down from 95 at the dissolution of the 41st Parliament.

Though disappointed with the party's overall standing, Cullen said he was encouraged by the ousting of Prime Minister Stephen Harper "as well the efforts of Enbridge to build their pipeline to Kitimat I think are finally finished with a government that will reject this."

The NDP has a lot to figure out in the days ahead, said Cullen.

"Three weeks ago, this was a different narrative. It goes to show it was a very tumultuous election. People were changing their minds, making their minds up late and we just didn't have that finishing push," Cullen said. "Maybe the length of the election played into that for us for various reasons."

Cullen didn't want to speculate about what his role in the New Democrat caucus would be going forward - outside of continuing to "tell the story of the north west" - nor would he entertain thoughts of potential party leadership.

"There's so much dust to settle," he said. "I'm just going to go see my kids again and maybe have a meal and just get off the road."

The focus will also be on holding the Liberals feet to the fire, Cullen added.

"Clean energy investment, the inquiry into murdered and missing aboriginal women and girls, these are the kinds of things we fought for, some of the things that the Liberal party has adopted," said Cullen. "Now they have to see them through. So our commitment is going to be very sincere in keeping them going."

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