News / Vancouver

Liberals win minority government in tight B.C. election with Greens holding balance of power

The B.C Liberals won or were leading in 43 seat to the NDP's 41 and the Greens 3.

B.C. Liberal leader Christy Clark waves to the crowd following the B.C. Liberal election in Vancouver, B.C., Wednesday, May 10, 2017.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

B.C. Liberal leader Christy Clark waves to the crowd following the B.C. Liberal election in Vancouver, B.C., Wednesday, May 10, 2017.

The B.C. Liberals have won a slim minority government over the NDP with the Green party holding the balance of power.

As of 12:30 a.m., the Liberals had 43 seats to the NDP's 41 and the Greens' historic three seats.

"This is the beginning of something very different for our province," said Christy Clark, in her speech to supporters early Wednesday morning, "and something that I think can be very exciting for the future of our promise and for our kids.

"Hopes for their future, for their children's future, for their grandchildren's future. That's what we talked about during this campaign and that's what people are thinking about all over British Columbia."

Clark said she still intends to lead the province, and expressed a willingness to work with MLAs across party lines.

B.C. Liberal leader Christy Clark hugs her son Hamish during a speech to Liberal supporters following the B.C. Liberal election in Vancouver, B.C., Wednesday, May 10, 2017.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

B.C. Liberal leader Christy Clark hugs her son Hamish during a speech to Liberal supporters following the B.C. Liberal election in Vancouver, B.C., Wednesday, May 10, 2017.

B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver, whose party now holds the deciding votes in the Legislature, said the first thing he wants is for big money donations to be banned from B.C. politics.

"I would expect that as soon as government sits in the Legislature, there will be legislation very soon after tabled banning big money in B.C. politics. That’s a condition that we made as part of our agreement moving forward," he told media.

Asked how long a minority government could work together without triggering a new election, Weaver expressed optimism.

"We’re here to work with anybody, I see no reason why it can’t last a whole term. We’re in this to ensure that good policy is put forward," said Weaver, undeniably the big winner of the night. "The roller coaster is a a roller coaster and I’m on the up side of the roller coaster right now."

NDP leader John Horgan, meanwhile, reminded everyone that a final result may not be known for days or weeks.

"British Columbians have waited for 16 years for a government that works for them and we’re going to have to ask you to wait a little bit longer until all the votes are counted and the final result of this election is known," he told supporters. "But this is what we do know, a majority of British Columbians voted for a new government and I believe that’s what they deserve."

NDP Leader John Horgan thanks supporters after his party was narrowly defeated by the B.C. Liberals in the provincial election.

David P. Ball/Metro

NDP Leader John Horgan thanks supporters after his party was narrowly defeated by the B.C. Liberals in the provincial election.

It was a close race from the moment polls closed.

Early poll results showed the Liberals pull ahead with a healthy lead but the incumbent party and the NDP were soon swapping positions back and forth as more and more stations began reporting their results as supporters in both camps looked on with anxious anticipation.

To their credit, some supporters didn’t let on how much tension was in the air, judging by the Liberal supporters who were otherwise sedate watching the results wearing “Keep calm and Christy on” T-shirts at the party headquarters at Fairmont Waterfront.

The NDP, meanwhile, saw its Vancouver Convention Centre hall packed full and raucous, although campaign staffers remarked on the nail biting results coming in being overwhelming unnerving.

No matter who emerges the victor on Wednesday morning, the tight race mirrored what many polls and observers have been saying about a particularly heated campaign fraught with attack ads, scandal, fierce exchanges and numerous issues at play.

“It was much more of a horse race this time around,” said Simon Fraser University’s Lindsay Meredith. “The NDP represented a party that actually had a shot – they were actually trying to have a little bit more of an organized platform this time – and the Green Party became a wild card.”

Meanwhile, the BC Liberals have stuck to their go-to lines on job creation and economic growth once more as they tried to hang on to a fifth consecutive term in office, according to the professor emeritus at the Beedie School of Business.

Public opinion polls before the election also seemed to point to a nail biter.

The last Forum Research poll on Monday night projected a 42-42 seat split and a minority government.

“The race has been very close,” said Forum president Lorne Bozinoff said at the time. “Over the last week, the two parties have been see-sawing back and forth. But when you take the margin of error into consideration, we’ve seen the parties essentially tied … The polls have tightened up to nearly dead even."

Veteran poll analyst Eric Grenier had also projected a statistical tie, as had Insights West.

Coupled with the political drama in B.C. – over issues such as housing affordability, the economy and political donations – has been a global trend against incumbent governments, according to Meredith.

“I think what’s happening is a besieged and pissed off middle class who, for want of anything better, is just kicking over the whole bucket because they’re fed up with the way business is going,” said Meredith. “That sets the cat among the pigeons and creates all kinds of unknown. It’s a global trend, whether it be Trump politics or the Brexit crowd, I see some serious pushback that seems to be popping up all over the place.”

-with files from David P. Ball

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