NDP score twin by-election wins

New Democrats keep safe Vancouver seat, seize Coquitlam-Burke Mountain from BC Liberals

NDP leader John Horgan celebrates the win in Coquitlam-Burke Mountain with new MLA Jodie Wickens.

NDP candidates won both Metro Vancouver ridings up for grabs in twin by-elections Tuesday.

Melanie Mark, who is part Nisga’a and Gitxsan, easily won Vancouver-Mount Pleasant with 61 per cent of the vote, becoming the first First Nations woman elected to the B.C. legislature.

It was closer in Coquitlam-Burke Mountain, where the NDP’s Jodie Wickens won with 46 per cent to 38 per cent for BC Liberal challenger Joan Isaacs.

Isaacs had hoped to keep the Coquitlam riding in BC Liberal hands after former MLA Doug Horne stepped down to make an unsuccessful run for the federal Conservatives.

Ride-hailing service Uber and the sharing economy had become a significant issue after Isaacs championed faster reforms, while the NDP urged caution and transparency on any change that could hurt existing taxi drivers.

SFU political marketing expert Lindsey Meredith noted it’s not unusual for the governing party to lose by-elections, where turnout was once again low. Fewer than 8,000 of the 38,000 eligible voters in Coquitlam-Burke Mountain cast ballots.

Meredith said there were potential sources of discontent in the riding with the BC Liberals, including the struggles of TransLink and the delay in completion of the Evergreen Line.

B.C. Green Party candidate Pete Fry finished second to Mark in the Vancouver riding with 26 per cent. And punk rocker turned Green politician Joe Keithley got 14 per cent in Coquitlam-Burke Mountain.

“It could be a sign that the Greens may be becoming more than a fringe party,” Meredith said.

The NDP also swept two by-elections in May 2012, with former Port Moody mayor Joe Trasolini elected in Port Moody-Coquitlam and Gwen O’Mahoney taking Chilliwack-Hope. Both lost to the B.C. Liberals in the general election a year later.