British Columbia Premier Christy Clark, whose B.C. Liberals scored a huge upset over the New Democratic Party, has just finished delivering her victory speech in downtown Vancouver in front of hundreds of cheering supporters.
Smiling broadly, Clark declared that her party had won a clear mandate to govern and would move forward with its plans to help oil companies drill more wells and build more pipelines to increase the province’s fossil fuel exports.
Less than an hour and a half earlier, the NDP’s Adrian Dix conceded defeat in front of a subdued crowd of activists who had hoped to be celebrating the end of Liberal rule but instead found themselves shellshocked at the margin of their defeat.
“Sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose, and in British Columbia it often rains,” Dix told supporters as he acknowledged the defeat with dignity.
“Tonight, we are disappointed, but we are unbowed,” he added.
“We’ve elected a very strong team that is going to hold the Government accountable… This party’s determination to bring change will continue.”
Perhaps, but the NDP is now in a much weaker position than it was before the election. That’s not the result Dix wanted, hoped for, or expected.
Dix himself will return to Victoria as the MLA for Vancouver — Kingsway. But he will return with less clout and less credibility than he had when he left to campaign as the public face of the New Democratic Party.
And whether he will remain the party’s leader is an open question. The NDP performed worse with him at the helm than it did with Carole James in 2009. (James, incidentally, won reelection in her own riding and will also return to Victoria).
Speaking with reporters after her victory speech, Clark lavished praise on her party’s volunteers and basked in the glow of victory.
“Oh my gosh, you guys, I’m feeling really honored,” she exclaimed when asked about her reaction to the unexpectedly great results for her party.
Naturally, she was also asked about the polls.
“If there’s any lesson in this, it’s that pollsters and prognosticators do not choose the government,” she replied.
That’s certainly true: we at NPI are fond of saying that the only real poll happens on Election Day (south of the border, here in Washington and Oregon, it’s more like Election Month, but the same principle applies).
However, it appears that the voters in Clark’s own riding are on the verge of choosing someone else to represent them in Victoria. The NDP may well come out of this election with at least the satisfaction of having knocked out Clark in Vancouver — Point Grey with a stellar candidate, David Eby, who used to serve as executive director of the B.C . Civil Liberties Association.
Eby, who has traded the lead with Clark a couple of times during the course of the night, is presently ahead by several hundred votes, which is rather remarkable. With one hundred and seventy-three of one hundred and seventy-three ballot boxes reported, Eby has a three hundred and sixty vote lead over Clark.
Advance polls (early votes, as we’d say in the U.S.) still need to be counted, but the NDP made a big effort to get British Columbians to vote early, and it seems unlikely that the advance polls will favor Clark.
If Eby ekes out a victory, it will be bittersweet for him, but very satisfying for the NDP… a bright spot on an otherwise very grim electoral map.
Clark would then find herself in the embarrassing position of having to ask one of her own victorious Liberal candidates to step aside so she can hold a seat in the B.C. Legislative Assembly. (As I’ve previously noted, in British Columbia, an MLA does not have to reside in the riding that he or she represents).
As of 11:40 PM, these were the results in Vancouver — Point Grey:
|Christy Clark||BC Liberal Party||7,987||44.31%|
|David Eby||BC NDP||8,347||46.30%|
|Hollis Jacob Linschoten||Work Less Party||42||0.23%|
|Duane Nickull||BC Conservative Party||274||1.52%|
|Françoise Raunet||Green Party of BC||1,264||7.01%|
|Bernard Bedu Yankson||The Platinum Party||10||0.06%|
Despite having undoubtedly lost some progressive voters to Françoise Raunet of the Green Party, Eby is still ahead, and leads by a slightly more comfortable margin at present than he did earlier. It’s looking pretty good for him.