CHILLIWACK, B.C. - Byelection losses in two party strongholds have hit the B.C. Liberals like a cold shower.

Premier Christy Clark tried to soften the likelihood of defeat in both byelections before Thursday's votes, but the results still sent a chill through party faithful.

Liberal candidates finished second-best in Chilliwack-Hope and Port Moody-Coquitlam, ridings considered solid Liberal territory.

The Opposition New Democrats won both seats, sending former Port Moody mayor Joe Trasolini and Fraser Valley health activist Gwen O'Mahony to the legislature.

The upstart B.C. Conservatives, who bill themselves as the alternative to the Liberals, finished third in both races.

Liberal supporters who gathered at a Chilliwack hotel were unanimous in declaring both defeats as wake up calls for the next provincial elections, set for next May.

Chilliwack Liberal MLA John Les lashed out at the Conservatives, saying their weak results should be enough to send them into talks with the Liberals to prevent an NDP win next May.

He said the John Cummins-led Conservatives were relegated to a mere spoiler role in the byelections, when they expected better.

"For John Cummins to say let's just carry on based on these results, he's going to absolutely guarantee a very large majority NDP election next year," said Les. "I'm not interested in that."

He called on Cummins, who said he voted NDP in the 2009 election, to start talks with the Liberals about ensuring the free enterprise vote does not split between the Conservatives and the Liberals, allowing the NDP to move up the middle and win the election.

"Maybe he doesn't care, but I can tell you that I care, and I care a lot," Les said.

Former federal Conservative cabinet minister Chuck Strahl, who worked on the campaign of defeated Chilliwack-Hope Liberal candidate Laurie Throness, said the Liberals need to open their doors to attract Conservative and Liberal voters.

An open-door policy will appeal to voters who would rather describe themselves as free enterprise supporters than Liberals or Conservatives, he said.

Strahl said the open door may be as simple as changing the party name, a suggestion Clark says she can support.

"I'm not into giving advice to B.C. Conservatives, but I'll do it anyway, which is, the welcome mat is not out for people who are not just like them," he said. "You can't form a government like that."

Strahl said the Liberal door is open and is about to open wider following the byelection defeats.

Former B.C. attorney general Geoff Plant said he expects the new Liberal openness will require compromise on the part of the Liberals and likely involve many backroom meetings between the Liberal and Conservative supporters.

"Folks who care about free enterprise, I think, have their work cut out for them to find a way to bridge their differences and speak with one voice in 2013."