B.C. Election 2017: NDP wins Courtenay-Comox riding; minority government confirmed
The New Democrats have won the crucial riding of Courtenay-Comox.
The final count had NDP candidate Ronna-Rae Leonard beating Liberal candidate Jim Benninger by 189 votes.
The result leaves the Liberals with 43 seats, the NDP 41 and the Greens three.
A party must win 44 seats to form a majority government.
The Liberals won the popular vote by 1,566 votes.
The win in Courtenay-Comox means there could be a Liberal or NDP minority government with the support of three Green members in the 87-seat legislature.
In statement, BC Liberal Leader Christy Clark said:
“With 43 BC Liberal candidates elected as MLAs, and a plurality in the legislature, we have a responsibility to move forward and form a government.
“The final result reinforces that British Columbians want us to work together, across party lines, to get things done for them.”
NDP Leader John Horgan said 60 per cent of B.C. voters want a change in government.
“I’m optimistic we’ll be able to put together a framework that has a majority of support in the legislature,” he said. “We don’t have that today. Christy Clark and the B.C. Liberals came up short and after 16 years it’s time for a new government.”
In a statement, Green Leader Andrew Weaver said his party “is committed to ensuring that British Columbians will have a stable minority government.”
“With this historic result, British Columbia can finally put the ineffective two-party system behind us,” Weaver said. “It has led to a divisive legislature that primarily benefits special interests.”
Liberal and New Democrat negotiating groups have met separately with a Green team since the election in an effort to reach a political co-operation agreement that would either support the Liberals to govern or allow the NDP to form a government.
Weaver has said the Greens want party status even though they don’t have the required four seats. The Greens also want to reform the current first-past-the-post electoral system and want changes to B.C.’s campaign finance system that currently allows large donations from corporations, unions and individuals.
Michael Prince, a social policy expert at the University of Victoria, said Clark is gambling that British Columbians are not in the mood to head back to the polls and the longer she can stay in power, if she can reach a deal with the Greens, her chances of winning another election improve.
“I think she’ll be hoping there’ll be no appetite for an instant election,” he said. “She can try to bring in a throne speech and a budget with a lot of green tinges.”
— With files from The Canadian Press
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