The B.C. provincial election was not only a big night for the NDP who were able to build a majority government, but also one for the books for the B.C. Greens, a party that had a lot to lose.
Dr. Kimberly Speers, political expert and assistant teaching professor in public administration at University of Victoria, said the NDP’s snap election only proved the strong base of support for the Greens.
“Though we saw a tsunami of support for the NDP across the province, in most parts there were waves of Green coming right behind too,” said Speers. “The Greens had a disadvantage because most people didn’t even know who Sonia was in the first place.”
B.C. Green leader Sonia Furstenau was not only able to get re-elected in Cowichan Valley, with Adam Olsen taking also getting another term for Saanich North and the Islands, but they beat out the Liberals in West Vancouver-Sea to Sky.
This is the first time they’ve claimed a seat from the mainland.
Dr. Will Greaves, assistant professor of political science at UVic, said although he wasn’t surprised by the majority government won by the NDP, the strength of John Horgan’s party didn’t come at the expense of the B.C. Greens.
“We saw a good chunk of B.C. Liberal supporters peel off for the Greens in a situation where we could’ve seen the decline or a complete collapse of the B.C. Green party. This was a best case scenario to show that they have a durable base of support that isn’t just focused in one single riding.”
According to preliminary results, the Greens came in second behind the NDP in Victoria-Beacon Hill, Victoria-Swan Lake, Oak Bay-Gordon Head and Esquimalt-Metchosin and Langford-Juan de Fuca ridings in the Southern Vancouver Island region.
In reference to the NDP majority, Speers said although it was a “big risk to take”, New Brunswick had pulled a similar successful snap election in September, the first province to do so during the pandemic.
“It was the perfect storm,” she added. “People need stability in their lives and he was doing well in the polls, so it makes sense. I think Horgan wouldn’t have cinched it if the people didn’t think he was handling the pandemic well enough. And honestly, it was one of the province’s worst kept secrets in my opinion.”
She pointed to the notion that minority governments in B.C. don’t tend to last for a long period of time, let alone a full four years. Given the fact the province was nearing towards an expected election in 2021, she believes the opposition-party Liberals and the Greens could’ve done more to prepare in retrospect.
Greaves pointed out that while he initially expected the NDP having to do the most to convince voters, he believes that the B.C. Liberals were “seemingly in catch-up mode” during the month-long campaign.
He references one of the most notable impacts when incumbent Liberal candidate Jane Thornthwaite made sexist remarks about NDP MLA Bowinn Ma earlier in October during a meeting on Zoom with her colleagues. She has since lost her seat in the North Vancouver-Seymour riding to NDP’s Susie Chant, according to Saturday’s results.
“It really proved that the B.C. Liberals had a hard time addressing the narrative around problematic candidates and weak leadership,” Greaves said.
Going forward, Greaves said he will keep his eyes on how the NDP will govern without needing support from the Greens and the scrutiny of the public amid the pandemic.
In the meantime, he’s looking forward to watching the leadership race amongst the B.C. Liberals in the coming months.
“The next campaign within the party will determine the future of how well they will do,” he said. “They’ll need to figure out how they can come back from one of the worst losses in their history.”
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