Final ballot count confirms British Columbia's NDP increased seat count to 57

Amy Smart
·3 min read

VANCOUVER — The New Democrats will govern British Columbia with 57 of 87 seats in the legislature, a decisive majority confirmed as the final ballot count concluded Sunday.

The B.C. Liberals won 28 seats, one of which is pending a judicial recount because the race was so close, and the Greens held two.

Premier John Horgan said in a statement he was "humbled and honoured" by the support British Columbians showed the NDP team.

"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," Horgan said.

"Just like we have for the last three and a half years, we’re going to do our level best each and every day to keep BC moving forward and build a better future for everyone."

Elections BC began counting 660,000 mail-in and absentee ballots that began Friday, 13 days after the Oct. 24 provincial election.

While it was clear that the NDP had successfully turned its minority into a majority, it was not yet known by how much.

That night, four races were too close to call, while the New Democrats were projected to win 53 seats, the Liberals 27 and the Greens three.

Ultimately, the New Democrats successfully pulled off wins in each of the four tight races, pulling ahead of the Liberals in two of them over the course of the mail-in count.

On Sunday, NDP candidate Harwinder Sandhu, a community activist and nurse, officially took the seat in Vernon-Monashee, a long-time Liberal stronghold. Liberal incumbent candidate Eric Foster was first elected there in 2009.

"I feel so blessed to be given this opportunity to represent people. I will make sure all voices are equally heard and congratulate the people of Vernon-Monashee for exercising their right to vote," she said in a tweet.

New Democrat Henry Yao, a community advocate and former youth worker, was confirmed the winner in Richmond South Centre Sunday with 179 more votes than Liberal Alexa Loo.

The NDP won the other two tight races, Abbotsford-Mission and Chilliwack-Kent, earlier in the count.

West Vancouver-Sea to Sky was projected to be the first Green seat on the Lower Mainland until Liberal incumbent Jordan Sturdy pulled ahead of Jeremy Valeriote by only 41 votes Saturday to clinch a win.

The tight margin triggers an automatic judicial recount, Elections BC said, and it will be up to the B.C. Supreme Court to set a date.

The election makes John Horgan the second two-term NDP premier in B.C. history, following a campaign that was marked by the pandemic.

His opponents took aim at him throughout the campaign for what they called an "unnecessary" election during a public health emergency when British Columbians need a steady hand most.

But voters ultimately rewarded Horgan for the gamble.

“This has been an extraordinarily difficult election for many, many reasons, but it’s one that I believe had to happen,” Horgan said on election night.

“I’m grateful for all British Columbians that we have put the election behind us and we can get back to focusing on the things that matter most to you.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 8, 2020.

Amy Smart, The Canadian Press