NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Tuesday, May 9th, 2017

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.

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