NDP wins 57 seats in final vote count of B.C. election
VANCOUVER -- The B.C. NDP has managed to secure an even bigger majority than it appeared on election night, winning 57 of the legislature's 87 seats in the final vote count.
The party was ahead in 55 ridings before Elections BC began tallying hundreds of thousands of mail-in and absentee ballots on Friday, then picked up an extra two seats in Vernon-Monashee and Abbotsford-Mission.
Altogether, the NDP secured more than 899,000 of the 1.88 million votes cast in the 2020 election, compared to 637,000 for the BC Liberals and 283,000 for the Greens.
"I'm humbled and honoured by the support British Columbians have shown for our BC NDP team," Premier John Horgan said in a statement Sunday evening.
“COVID-19 is presenting us with new challenges each day, and we need to keep the focus where it belongs: keeping ourselves, our families and our communities healthy, safe and secure. We will get through this together."
The NDP's Harwinder Sandhu clinched Vernon-Monashee by a margin of 424 votes, beating BC Liberal incumbent Eric Foster, according to the final results.
In Abbotsford-Mission, NDP candidate Pam Alexis beat Liberal incumbent Simon Gibson by 744 votes.
But the BC Liberals' Jordan Sturdy also reclaimed the lead in West Vancouver-Sea to Sky over Green candidate Jeremy Valeriote. Sturdy's razor-thin margin of 41 votes means the riding is required by law to undergo a judicial recount.
As of Sunday, the BC Liberals are poised to control 28 seats, including West Vancouver-Sea to Sky. That leaves just two for Sonia Furstenau's Greens.
Pollster Mario Canseco, president of Research Co., described the results as a "monumental collapse" for the Liberals, who held power for 16 years before narrowly being defeated in 2017.
"It is the largest NDP majority we've seen in the province, both in the number of seats that they're going to be controlling and also in how many people voted for the party this time around," Canseco said.
The NDP took 48 per cent of the overall vote, the highest total for any party since 2001, Canseco said. Much of that came from a commanding lead in mail-in ballots, similar to how absentee ballots in the U.S. election heavily favoured Joe Biden.
The Liberals lost several former strongholds, including Langley-East and Chilliwack-Kent, where incumbent Laurie Throness's socially conservative views made him a target during the campaign.
"It's not a situation where they can point to the BC Conservatives taking away from them," Canseco added. "They are ridings they would have lost even if there was no BC Conservative running."
The results don't look good for the climate-change focused Green party either, which had considerable influence holding the balance of power in John Horgan's minority government.
Valeriote told CTV News that watching the results update over the weekend has been "a rollercoaster."
"Went in yesterday morning with a 700-plus vote lead, but knew nothing was for sure," he said. "We knew it was going to be close, and it is. But it's a significant gain in votes for the Green party."
Even if he loses West Vancouver-Sea to Sky after the recount, the Greens will still be able to retain official party status in the legislature. The Constitutional Amendment Act passed in 2017 reduced the minimum number of seats required from four down to two.
Canseco said the results still fall short of expectations for the party, particularly after Furstenau's impressive debate performance.
"Three sounds a lot better than two," Canseco said of the party's current seat count. "And breaking out of the island and winning a seat on the mainland is something they really want to do."
Looking at the final results, Canseco suggested it's possible many people had already cast a ballot before getting a chance to see Furstenau go toe-to-toe with Horgan and the Liberals' outgoing leader Andrew Wilkinson.