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It’s a dead heat in British Columbia: Major parties tied for seats, BC Greens hold balance

Who will be the next Premier of British Columbia? That’s a question we still don’t know the answer to, despite polls having closed across Canada’s western-most province over three hours ago, because the results have been incredibly close.

As of around 11:10 PM Pacific Time, incumbent Premier Christy Clark and the governing Liberals (who, despite their name, are actually a right wing party) were tied with the opposition New Democrats at forty-two seats apiece, with the BC Greens leading or elected in three ridings.

(As of 11:45 PM, since this post was originally written, the Liberals led or had been elected in 43 ridings, and the NDP was in second place with 41 seats. A riding, incidentally, is what they call a district north of the border.)

British Columbia election results

The story of the night: The major parties were tied for seats as of 10:10 PM Pacific

These numbers likely won’t hold. But if they did, the Greens would be the kingmakers. Whichever party they choose to work with would get to form the government, while the other party would become the official opposition.

The Liberals and the NDP have been trading the lead all night long. At times, the Liberals have been leading or elected in 44 ridings, and at other times, the NDP has been leading or elected in 44 ridings. 44 is the magic number needed to control the 87-member British Columbia Legislative Assembly, which meets in Victoria.

The large number of too-close-to-call ridings is a result that not many people expected — certainly not the Liberals, who were expecting a much better outcome.

In some battleground ridings, the major party candidates are separated by only a handful of votes, giving fresh meaning to the motto Every Vote Counts.

The NDP has already knocked out several key members of Christy Clark’s cabinet, stunning the Liberals.

Peter Fassbender, the Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development and the Minister Responsible for TransLink, has lost his seat, as has Suzanne Anton, the Minister of Justice. Amrik Virk, Minister of Technology, Innovation and Citizens’ Service, and Naomi Yamamoto, Minister of State for Emergency Preparedness were also defeated by their NDP challengers.

The NDP did better than expected in greater Vancouver, which has historically been the linchpin for the Liberals, but it has also given away some of its own seats to Christy Clark’s party, jeopardizing its chances of securing a majority.

Final results aren’t expected until May 22nd. It is important to note that absentee ballots have not been counted.

Key ridings we are watching:

  • Vancouver-False Creek (0.6% margin)
  • Richmond-Queensborough (1.1% margin)
  • Courtenay-Comox (2.0% margin)

Complete results for all of the ridings are available here.

Some ridings are so close that there will need to be automatic recounts.

CBC and CTV are each projecting a minority government.

“Tonight is the beginning of something very different,” said Premier Christy Clark, trying to put the best possible spin on the lackluster results for her party in a late night speech broadcast at around 12:10 AM.

Christy Clark addresses supporters

Christy Clark addresses supporters (via CBC)

“We won the popular vote,” Clark said later, smiling wearily as her supporters chanted and applauded. “And we have also won the most seats. And with absentee ballots still be counted, I am confident they will strengthen our margin of victory. So it is my intention to continue to lead British Columbia’s government.”

“British Columbians did tell us tonight that they want us to do some things differently,” she acknowledged, pledging to work with the other parties and congratulating John Horgan and Andrew Weaver on a hard-fought campaign.

Clark exited swiftly following her speech and did not shake hands with supporters after stepping down from the stage.

Horgan and Weaver each walked out to speak to their supporters at the same time, forcing CBC to cut away from Weaver’s speech in order to air Horgan’s.

John Horgan speaking

BCNDP leader John Horgan speaking to supporters (via CBC)

“Tonight, we have elected an extraordinary group of New Democrats,” John Horgan declared to a packed election night party, after noting it was too soon to know who would be forming the next government of British Columbia. He proceeded to reel off the names of the party’s victorious candidates in battleground ridings.

“This campaign has always been not about me, but about us, on the Us Bus,” Horgan said. “It is still focused on people tonight.”

“British Columbians voted today to get big money out of politics,” Horgan said. “British Columbians voted today for proportional representation. British Columbians voted for action on climate change. And they voted for an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top.”

“Let’s hang tight… and get back to the party,” he concluded.