Today’s Poll

Mungall retains seat in Nelson-Creston but provincial picture still muddled

Timothy Schafer
By Timothy Schafer
May 10th, 2017

Although the Green Party may have lost the local Nelson-Creston riding, it has managed to win on the provincial stage.

On Tuesday night Andrew Weaver’s Green Party took three seats — triple its largest representation ever — and with it the balance of power, as the province faces its first minority government in 65 years.

Christy Clark and the BC Liberals were able to hold on to power, albeit, a minority government after escaping the night with 43 of B.C.’s 87 ridings, compared to 41 for the NDP.

It is B.C.’s first minority government result since 1952.

However, with several ridings being decided in the early hours of Wednesday morning, the final tabulations by Elections BC on May 22 and 24 remain on everyone’s mind as absentee ballots have yet to be counted.

On Vancouver Island in the riding of Courteny-Comox, NDP’s Ronna-Rae Leonard leads by just nine votes over B.C. Liberal candidate Jim Benninger.

In the Nelson-Creston, Green Party candidate Kim Charlesworth came close to unseating two-time incumbent Michelle Mungall of the NDP, with the best ever showing for a Green Party candidate in the riding.

Charlesworth garnered 29 per cent of the vote (4,425 votes) while Mungall had 43 per cent of the vote at 6,607 and Tanya Wall of the Liberals had a 27 per cent vote share (4,089).

The other candidates — independents Tom Prior and Jesse O’Leary — did not record a vote share.

Even with the strong showing, Charlesworth was disappointed, and was surprised it wasn’t closer.

“We were hearing from people that they were ready for change, and that they really appreciated the values and the platform the Greens had, so I was surprised it wasn’t closer,” she said. “But, yes, we have had successes and we have raised the bar on the conversation.”

Mungall has held the Nelson-Creston seat since her election two terms ago in 2009 and on Tuesday she was excited to enter a third term, especially considering she could become a member of government, perhaps even in cabinet.

She was named to the short list for CBC’s potential cabinet ministers, and was the deputy house leader for the last three years and has been part of the NDP leadership team.

“If we get to be on the government side there is so much more I can do for this riding and the list is extremely long,” she said Tuesday night. “But (people) can continue to count on me to be a strong MLA in the legislature no matter where I sit, and I will be the feisty, fearless bulldog to get things done for our riding.”

The NDP would immediately be reaching out to the Green Party if the split stayed in effect in order to form government, said Mungall.

“Of the two parties and the way people voted, I think more people voted to get Christy Clark out than to keep her in,” she noted.

Most people did vote strategically again in the election, said Charlesworth, even though she was hearing a strong voice for change, and for the Green Party.

“People could not get beyond it,” she said about strategic voting.

This year’s win was by a closer margin than in 2013, when Mungall defeated the Liberals’ Greg Garbula and Green Party candidate Sjeng Derkx by almost 4,000 votes — 8,200 to 4,577 and 3,387 respectively — or 50.73 per cent of the vote.

When the election began four weeks ago it was the start of a very close race for the premiership between Liberal leader Christy Clark and the NDP’s John Horgan, with Green Party leader Andrew Weaver looking to improve on the one seat the party held in the legislature.

After holding power for the last 16 years — with five consecutive majority governments — the Liberals began the race focusing on jobs and job creation.

However, Horgan attempted to discredit Clark and portray her as “out of touch” with regular British Columbians who felt the economy was not working for them, while Weaver cast the Greens as political outsiders and an alternative to the current two-party system.

At dissolution of legislative assembly, the Liberals held a 12-seat edge over the NDP, at 47 to 35 seats. The Green Party held one seat.

The 41st B.C. general election is the first contest on a new electoral map completed in 2015, with the total number of constituencies increased from 85 in the current legislature to 87. The new districts added were for Richmond and Surrey, while the boundaries of 48 of the 87 electoral districts were adjusted.

The Electoral Boundaries Commission Amendment Act, 2014 required that the number of electoral districts in the North, Cariboo-Thompson, and the Columbia-Kootenay regions not be decreased despite lower population.

In the 2013 B.C. general election the B.C. Liberals under the leadership of Christy Clark were re-elected with a majority government. The New Democratic Party, under the leadership of Adrian Dix, again formed the Official Opposition with a slightly reduced total of 34 seats. 

Despite the victory, Clark was defeated by NDP candidate David Eby in her riding but was elected in the Westside-Kelowna by-election following Ben Stewart’s resignation in July 2013.

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