Vancouver Island was a stronghold for the NDP going into the election, and the party managed to grow even stronger with an apparent win in the Oak Bay-Gordon Head riding previously held by retiring former Green party leader Andrew Weaver.
Former high-profile Victoria MP Murray Rankin was recruited as a star candidate in Oak Bay-Gordon Head and was leading after Saturday’s initial count, taking 6,834 votes. The Green party’s Nicole Duncan received 4,046 votes. There are a high number of mail-in ballots — 15,918 packages were requested, 38 per cent of eligible voters.
Premier John Horgan handily won re-election in Langford-Juan de Fuca, capturing 10,302 votes to Green candidate Gord Baird’s 2,842. There are, however, some 15,918 mail-in ballots outstanding, which won’t be counted until 14 days after the election.
The NDP was leading or elected in 12 of 14 seats on Vancouver Island, with one shocker in the making. B.C. Liberal Michelle Stillwell, the long-time incumbent in Parksville-Qualicum, was trailing NDP candidate Adam Walker 7,308 votes to 6,366 after Saturday’s initial count, potentially wiping out the Liberals’ island presence.
Both Green leader Sonia Furstenau and caucus mate Adam Olsen appearing headed for re-election.
Olsen looked to have won handily in Saanich-North and the Islands, taking 10,726 votes, leaving NDP candidate Zeb King in the dust with 5,385 votes. Furstenau also appeared to have been re-elected in Cowichan Valley, as she had received 7,550 votes after Saturday’s initial count to the NDP’s Rob Douglas at 8,631 votes.
A slim victory in Courtenay-Comox on Vancouver Island in 2017 proved to be enough to hand a minority government to the NDP, but incumbent Ronna-Rae Leonard was in a comfortable lead after Saturday with 8,454 votes compared to B.C. Liberal Brennan Day with 5,414.
The NDP faced the challenge of replacing three MLAs on the island, all of whom were high-profile cabinet ministers who did not run again, including finance minister Carole James, the party’s former leader and Horgan’s most stalwart supporter.
NDP candidate Grace Lore looked set to take James’ Victoria-Beacon Hill riding, 6,852 votes to Green candidate Jenn Nielson’s 4,655.
In Mid Island-Pacific Rim, Josie Osborne, Tofino’s popular mayor who was recruited by the NDP, will take over for retiring MLA Scott Fraser, as she led after Saturday’s voting with 10,071 votes to the Greens’ Evan Jolicoeur at 3,785.
And the NDP’s Michele Babchuck is poised to win the North Island, last held by Claire Trevena, the transportation minister in Horgan’s government, taking 7,666 votes to the Greens’ Alexandra Morton at 3,285.
Former education minister Rob Fleming and agriculture minister Lana Popham look set to win re-election in Victoria-Swan Lake and Saanich South.
In mid-Island, the NDP’s Sheila Malcolmson and Doug Routley held strong leads and look set for re-election in the Nanaimo and Nanaimo-North Cowichan ridings.
There are a considerable number of mail-in ballots outstanding. In total, 176,000 of the Island’s 640,497 registered voters requested absentee ballots, 27 per cent of registered voters.