The day after John Horgan pulled off a historic win for his party, the premier said that he would entertain good, sensible ideas from voices beyond those in his own party and deliver on the needs of people across B.C., rather than focus on politics.
When Horgan returns to Victoria Monday he will do so with a substantial majority, the largest in B.C. NDP history, and strong backing from urban and coastal ridings. But he will do so knowing that he continues to lack support in many Interior, northern and rural ridings, where his party was again rejected by voters.
“I would have liked to have seen better results in rural British Columbia and I’ll continue to work hard to build better relationships and a better understanding of the challenges in rural B.C.,” he told a news conference Sunday.
Horgan intends to get out to rural communities more in the coming years and said having a majority government would help to enable that.
The NDP’s snap election earned the party 14 more seats than in 2017 and cost the Liberals 12, according to interim results.
Those results showed an orange crush in the Lower Mainland, where the NDP wrested a slew of seats from Liberal hands, including those in North Vancouver-Seymour, Vancouver-False Creek, Coquitlam-Burke Mountain, Richmond-Queensborough, Richmond-Steveston, and Surrey-Cloverdale. The NDP also won Langley and Chilliwack, a pair of ridings it had never held before.
Among the notable Liberals booted from their ridings were Jane Thornthwaite, who was criticized for sexist comments during the race; Sam Sullivan, a former Vancouver mayor; and high-profile incumbents Mary Polak and Jas Johal.
Some riding results could still change because more than 500,000 mail-in ballots — representing more than one-third of the electorate — won’t begin to be counted until Nov. 6. But those uncounted ballots won’t change the outcome of an NDP majority.
Asked how he planned to retain the support of right-of-centre voters who may have supported the NDP this election, Horgan said he believed “New Democrat values are mainstream values” and that most people don’t think of the world as left or right, but rather, think of the needs of their family and community.
Horgan said his first priority remained the pandemic. But he also homed in on the environment and Indigenous issues as top of mind matters.
“We have a lot ahead of us. We need to continue to work on our climate action plan to continue … protecting our natural environment for future generations,” Horgan said.
“We need to continue to work with Indigenous peoples to make sure the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples makes some sense in every corner of British Columbia.”
Asked when he planned to deliver on his party’s campaign promise of up to $1,000 in COVID-19 recovery benefits for many households, Horgan was unsure. He said that after the final results of the election were known — which could take weeks — and the new government is sworn in, “We’ll look at how much time is left for the legislative session. … I don’t want to make a promise I may not be able to keep.”
Horgan has said he wanted that money to reach households by Christmas.
The victory validated Horgan’s decision to tear up his partnership with the Greens on Sept. 21, and plunge the province into a campaign a year early, even as COVID-19 case counts worsened.
Green Leader Sonia Furstenau and fellow Green Adam Olsen were re-elected on Vancouver Island, and the party picked up a seat from the Liberals in West Vancouver-Sea to Sky. Furstenau said the NDP might have won a majority, but voters trust her party on the environment and a clean vision for the province’s future.
“While they may have their majority, British Columbians have returned Green MLAs to hold government accountable,” she said during an election-night speech in Victoria.
The Liberal were out of urban areas like the Lower Mainland.
Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson had trouble connecting with voters during the pandemic election, as crowds, door-knocking and canvassing were heavily restricted. He also found his leadership undermined by sexist and homophobic candidate comments by candidates, which he was slow to address.
Wilkinson did not concede a loss Saturday and said he will await the final count. “We owe it to every voter, no matter how they express their intention, to await the final results.”
Despite a platform that included eliminating the provincial sales tax for one year — which, at $7 billion, was the most expensive election promise in modern history — the Liberals appeared unable to break through voter preoccupation with pandemic safety and health care.
Horgan told The Vancouver Sun earlier this month he was unwilling to run a government that acts in the autocratic ways he experienced during three terms in opposition when the B.C. Liberals held power.
“Twelve miserable years in opposition, where we came forward with lots of good ideas that were thrown to the side, is what makes me know that if I have the opportunity to listen to people who have good ideas, I’m going to do that,” he said then.