The West Shore’s incumbent NDP candidates enjoyed success on Tuesday’s election night, even as their party suffered a surprising defeat overall.
“(I’m) pleased on a personal level to have the support of the majority of people who voted,” said Juan de Fuca MLA John Horgan. “But I’m profoundly disappointed that it appears I’m in the opposition again. I’m not at all happy about that.”
Horgan earned back his seat with 53.5 per cent of the vote. B.C. Liberal candidate Kerrie Reay had 30.9 per cent of the vote, with Carlos Serra of the Green Party coming in third with just over 15 per cent.
Maurine Karagianis, the NDP incumbent for Esquimalt-Royal Roads, won her riding handily with 48 per cent of the vote, compared to Liberal Chris Ricketts’ 28.7 per cent and the Green party’s Susan Christina Low’s 21.6 per cent.
“I’m very excited that the voters have once again given me a vote of confidence in my constituency,” said Karagianis. “It’s a great thrill to now be serving my third term as MLA.”
What was clearly intended as a jubilant celebration at NDP headquarters at the Victoria Conference Centre, where most of the regional candidates gathered, began to turn sour early in the evening as the results came. Early victories by Maurine Karagianis and Rob Fleming were overshadowed by overall results showing a clear Liberal lead.
“We’ve had four wasted years of the government, between the HST and leadership campaigns and all that,” said Karagianis. “It’s been a bit of a write-off, as far as a term of government. Hopefully … we’ll get on with governing with the province of British Columbia.”
B.C. Liberals took 50 seats, gaining five and earning 44.4 per cent of the popular vote. The NDP won 39.5 per cent of the popular vote and ended the night with 33 seats. The Green Party earned one seat, Andrew Weaver for Oak Bay-Gordon Head, while one independent, Vicki Huntington for Delta South, won a seat.
“At some point you start to believe everything the polls and the pundits and the speculators, and when it doesn’t come about the only thing you can be is shocked,” Horgan said. “But the public is always right, and that’s why we have elections.”
Horgan believes a lack of focus on industrial jobs may have lost the party essential votes in B.C.’s interior.
The priority coming in with the new government is going to be establishing a working relationship with the Liberals, especially on Vancouver Island, where ridings are predominately held by the NDP.
“It’s going to be a challenge for us in the Capital Region without any representation in the government,” Horgan said. “The government has to recognize that and work around it, and that’s going to be a challenge for everybody.”
NDP supporters who had gathered at the convention centre looked on the results in disbelief, with many a shaking head and commiserating hug.
Carole James spoke on behalf of the candidates to the deflated crowd late in the evening.
“There is no question that tonight is a difficult night. There is no question that this result is a shock for all of us,” James said. “We will have a critical job to do, to hold this government to account over this next number of years.”
“Let’s remember the work that we did, let’s remember the values that we stand for. Let’s remember the change for the better still needs to happen in British Columbia.”