VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – It could be several weeks before British Columbians know for sure which party — or parties — will hold the reins of power.
Recounts and a tally of absentee ballots will be needed before the outcome of the provincial election is clear, but if the current results stand, BC will have its first minority government in more than 60 years.
Currently the Liberals hold 43 seats, the New Democrats have 41 and the Green party took three seats on Vancouver Island, giving that party and Leader Andrew Weaver the balance of power.
The official count of votes won’t be held for almost two weeks, and that’s when thousands of absentee ballots will be added to the totals, while at least one recount, and possibly more, will be required to decide very close races.
“We’re going to ask you to wait a little bit longer,” said BC NDP Leader John Horgan. “Until all the votes are counted and the final results of this election are known.”
The NDP took the riding of Courtenay-Comox by just 9 votes. The Orange also won Maple Ridge-Mission by 120 ballots while the Liberals took Coquitlam-Burke Mountain by 170 votes.
“We have not finished.” added Horgan. “There are absentee ballots to come and many more votes to count before this election is over.”
Green victories in three Vancouver Island ridings won’t be enough to give the party official standing in the legislature — at least four seats are required for that — but if last night’s results don’t change, the Greens will still wield plenty of power.
Leader Andrew Weaver could throw his support to either the Liberals or New Democrats, giving either party the numbers they need to form government.
Weaver — who was re-elected in his Oak Bay-Gordon Head riding — has spoken with both Liberal Leader Christy Clark and the N-D-P’s John Horgan, but isn’t tipping his hand about strategy.
He says the party offered change to British Columbians and voters responded, also electing Adam Olsen, in Saanich North and the Islands, and Sonia Furstenau in Cowichan Valley.
Liberal Leader Christy Clark says she intends to form government, but she may have to hold that thought for a bit, until official counts confirm her party won the most seats — with the count currently standing at 43.
“We have been presented with an opportunity by British Columbians to open a whole new dialogue in our province, in our legislature. A dialogue about how we do things what we should do, how we want to shape the future of our province.”
Speaking to supporters last night in Vancouver, Clark said she was confident that thousands of absentee ballots will shore up the Liberal’s razor-thin victory.
“Tonight is the beginning of something very different. And something I think could be very exciting for the future of our province, and for our kids.”
That count won’t take place until later this month, and New Democrat Leader John Horgan is equally confident that the uncounted votes will push his party to power — and he says he won’t concede the election until those counts are complete.
With 41 seats, New Democrats gained eight MLAs, compared to 2013, and made inroads in Metro Vancouver, while the Liberals lost seven seats and a handful of cabinet ministers, but captured a couple of key Interior ridings previously held by the NDP.
Political expert Hamish Telford thinks a Liberal minority government would not survive. Telford is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of the Fraser Valley.