British Columbia’s electoral map was split almost equally into thirds on election night as the Liberals and the NDP picked up seats at the Conservatives’ expense and the Greens were almost certain to lose one of their two.
Thirteen Conservatives will return to the House of Commons, while the NDP and the Liberals each won 12 seats. Former Green Party leader Elizabeth May won her seat, but the party’s second seat, in Nanaimo-Ladysmith, was among four ridings that remained too close to call between the Liberals and the NDP. The results in those ridings will depend on thousands of mail-in ballots which will be counted starting Tuesday.
“The results seem pretty compatible with the polls,” said Max Cameron, a political scientist at the University of British Columbia.
“Why would we expect the result to be different from what we had 18 months ago? What of consequence has changed? There’s been no collapse of support for government nor a massive boost.”
The other three ridings with a winner yet to be determined were Vancouver-Granville, Richmond Centre and West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast.
In Vancouver-Granville, once held by retiring Independent Jody Wilson-Raybould, Liberal candidate Taleeb Noormohamed and NDP candidate Anjali Appadurai were neck and neck as of 11 p.m.
Stewart Prest, a lecturer in political science at Simon Fraser University, said one might think the riding would be an easy pickup for the Liberals given Ms. Wilson-Raybould’s election under the Liberal banner in 2015 before sitting as an independent in 2019.
But Mr. Noormohamed was criticised by his rivals when it was discovered he had flipped dozens of homes over the years, pocketing millions of dollars, despite a Liberal platform promise to target speculators.
“And, we don’t totally know why folks who voted for Ms. Wilson-Raybould last time around were doing so,” Mr. Prest said. “Was it that they liked her approach to politics, similar to the Liberals but not the Liberals? Or was it a repudiation of the Liberal party? If [the latter], would those voters, now that Ms. Wilson-Raybould’s not running anymore, be willing to go back?”
John Bondoc voted NDP in the Vancouver-Granville riding just blocks from where he grew up with parents who immigrated from the Philippines and supported the Conservatives for decades.
The 46-year-old, a software designer who specializes in user experience, said Canada’s rising inequality is inextricably tied to its unaffordable housing problems and the climate change crisis. Mr. Bondoc, chatting outside the polling station Monday afternoon, said he was turned off by his local Liberal candidate’s past business.
“Flip three houses in five years? Okay, cool, awesome, good for you, you’ve figured it out. Twenty? That’s just a storm of money flipping around and somebody got hurt somewhere along the line - that’s how that works,” he said.
The Conservatives lost a riding in Port Moody to the New Democrats and lost a further two to the Liberals, one in Richmond and one in Langley.
In Nanaimo-Ladysmith, Green candidate Paul Manly trailed behind the NDP’s Lisa Marie Barron and Conservative candidate Tamara Kronis late Monday. Mr. Manly has a prominent presence in the riding, but the Greens faced several setbacks, including infighting and former B.C. Green leader Andrew Weaver’s endorsement of the Liberal Party by saying it had “the only credible science-aligned climate plan put forward by any political party at the federal level to date.”
Mr. Cameron noted the election may be remembered as a lost opportunity for the Greens in a year during which climate and environment issues were undoubtedly top of mind for many. The province had just experienced another “hellish” season of forest fires, a heat dome that killed hundreds of people, and the largest act of disobedience in Canadian history, with more than 1,040 people arrested during protests over old-growth logging at Fairy Creek.
“This was a real chance for the Greens to make gains but they were disadvantaged in a variety of ways, including some self-inflicted harm,” Mr. Cameron said.
In Richmond Centre, Liberal candidate Wilson Miao was two percentage points ahead of longtime incumbent Alice Wong of the Conservative Party late Monday. Ms. Wong first won the riding in 2008, when it was Richmond-South Delta, and has been re-elected three times. If she is unseated by Mr. Miao, who worked in corporate marketing and real estate before moving into media communications, that would be considered one of the bigger upsets of the night.
Young Canadian voters, those between the ages of 18 and 34, told Angus Reid affordable housing was one of their top concerns. All three parties have acknowledged the country’s housing crisis with promises to address the increasing demand for affordable places to live, as well as measures to ensure new accommodations – whether rental or owned – get built. If the new government lives up to its promises, it will represent the most aggressive involvement of the federal government in housing in decades.
“I love the feds being back into housing. All three parties are interested in housing. It feels like the feds are running the campaign we had back in B.C. in 2017,” B.C. Housing Minister David Eby said.
All of the parties, though, were vague about how they would meet these goals given significant obstacles, especially a quagmire at the municipal level in getting zoning and permitting done swiftly. Results from the Liberals’ efforts to execute on their housing promises from 2019 shows there should have been 64,000 new homes built after four years of that government’s housing strategy. Available statistics suggest only about half that were actually created.
During Mr. Trudeau’s visits to B.C., which included stops in Vancouver, Saanich, Surrey and Steveston, the Liberal Leader promised investments in wildfire firefighter resources and long-term care homes.
Erin O’Toole held a rally in Nanaimo, on Vancouver Island and visited the Vancouver area. His campaign encountered one of its biggest controversies while Mr. O’Toole was in the province, when he was forced to walk back a platform promise to rescind a ban on certain weapons.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, who was re-elected in his Burnaby-South riding, made more campaign stops in B.C. than any other leader.