On a night that saw the B.C. Liberals snatch victory from the jaws of defeat provincewide, star candidate Andrew Weaver scored a major coup Tuesday for the Green Party in Oak Bay-Gordon Head.
Votes are still being counted, but it appears University of Victoria climate scientist and Nobel Prize co-winner has ousted incumbent Liberal and veteran cabinet minister Ida Chong, and second-time NDP candidate Jessica Van der Veen to earn his party’s first seat in the B.C. legislature.
As of 10:15 p.m. tonight with a majority of polls reporting, Weaver had more than 6,100 votes to Van der Veen’s 4,500 and Chong’s 4,266.
It was a bittersweet night for the Greens, whose leader, Jane Sterk, finished a distant second behind incumbent Carole James of the NDP in Victoria-Beacon Hill. Sterk has said she would step down as B.C. Green leader if defeated in this election.
The orange wave rolled over Greater Victoria once again, as five of seven electoral districts went overwhelmingly in favour of the NDP. Incumbents James, Rob Fleming (Victoria-Swan Lake), Maurine Karagianis (Esquimalt-Royal Roads), Lana Popham (Saanich South) and John Horgan (Juan de Fuca) scored comfortable wins.
Weaver, whose campaign team celebrated the win at the Oak Bay Beach Hotel, was part of a three-way battle that was too close to call at the outset. He took an early lead in the polling and extended that advantage.
Despite the solid NDP showing in Greater Victoria, the provincial picture left at least one winner questioning campaign strategy.
“I think it’s a bit of an upset, it’s unexpected,” said Karagianis from NDP campaign headquarters at the Victoria Conference Centre. “It just goes to show that you cannot believe the polls. It means a positive campaign, despite the fact that people say they want that, does not work as well as a negative campaign and that’s really sad.”
At this hour, the NDP’s Gary Holman in Saanich North and the Islands has pulled ahead of the Liberal’s Stephen Roberts and the Green’s Adam Olsen in what has been a tight three-way race.