Not surprisingly, a B.C. election with what many believed had no single polarizing issue left the province in a near dead heat between the BC Liberals and NDP, with the BC Greens bumping their seats to three and playing the role of potential majority spoiler.
On the West Shore, the NDP showed their support remains strong, with party leader John Horgan racing to a huge victory over challengers Cathy Noel of the Liberals and Brendan Ralfs of the Greens – that despite spending very little time personally campaigning in his Langford-Juan de Fuca riding. He made sure later to give his “peeps” back home kudos for knocking on a lot of doors, making a lot of sandwiches and talking to a lot of people this past month.
Political newcomer Mitzi Dean, while clearly helped by the electoral track record of NDP predecessor Maurine Karagianis, has to be given full credit for handily defeating well-known Liberal candidate Barb Desjardins for the Esquimalt-Metchosin seat. Also notable was how Andy MacKinnon rode the Green wave to within 750 votes of veteran municipal politician Desjardins.
The usually affable Horgan led an aggressive campaign to bring his party’s seats within two of the Liberals, showing he is not above getting dirty in the political trenches to secure victory.
During his non-concession, non-victory speech late Tuesday night, he encouraged supporters to “hang tight” until all the absentee and mail-in ballots are counted and said the majority of British Columbians voted for change.
While not incorrect, the statement is a bit misleading. The last time a previous governing party won even close to a majority of the popular vote was 1986, when Bill Vander Zalm’s Social Credit party earned 49.32 per cent of voter support, virtually dead even with votes cast for the old Liberal and the NDP.
B.C. voters fundamentally voted for change in 2001, when Gordon Campbell’s B.C. Liberals punted then-leader Ujjal Dosanjh’s NDP from power, taking nearly 58 per cent of the popular vote and winning 77 of 79 seats.
If Horgan happens to become premier via this election, which seems an outside possibility at this point, it would certainly bring more light to West Shore issues such as transportation and affordable housing, to name a couple.