Campbell wins 3rd straight term in B.C.
Referendum on electoral reform fails
Posted: May 12, 2009 7:52 PM PT
Last Updated: May 13, 2009 7:58 AM PT
B.C. Liberal Leader Gordon Campbell has won an historic third straight term as the province's premier. Preliminary results in Tuesday's B.C. election show Campbell's Liberals leading with 45.7 per cent of the popular vote, ahead of Carole James's NDP at 42.2 per cent.
By 1:30 a.m. PT Wednesday, when initial count was suspended, the Liberals were elected in 49 ridings while the NDP were elected in 36, according to preliminary election results posted on Elections BC's website.
The preliminary results would be updated when the count resumes later Wednesday, the website said.
Six new seats were added to the provincial legislature in Victoria for this election, raising the total number of seats to 85. That means to win a majority, a party needs to elect candidates in at least 43 ridings.
Tuesday's victory makes Campbell one of only four premiers in B.C. history to win three terms, alongside W.A.C. Bennett, his son Bill Bennett and Richard McBride.
Vote for stability
Campbell once again won his seat in Vancouver Point Grey, this time with nearly 50 per cent of the vote, and appeared on stage at the new convention centre in Vancouver shortly after 10 p.m. PT on Tuesday to give his victory speech.
"This really is a message that people want stability," Campbell told the crowd. "If we work together we will continue to keep B.C. strong."
'We will not let them down. We will create jobs in every region of this province.'— Premier-elect Gordon Campbell
In a wide-ranging speech that touched on familiar themes from the campaign, including climate change, aboriginal reconciliation and job creation, Campbell promised to continue on much the same path his government had taken in his previous terms.
"We are going through difficult economic times," he said, reaching out to B.C.'s growing ranks of unemployed. "We will not let them down. We will create jobs in every region of this province."
Campbell also thanked his opponents, NDP Leader Carole James and Green party Leader Jane Sterk, and the voters, saying it is "critically important that we find ways to work together in B.C."
'The results may not be what we hoped for, but the views of our constituents will be well represented,'— NDP Leader Carole James
Laughing and joking with his family on stage, he looked to his grandchildren saying, "We are dedicating ourselves to the next generation, and generation that follows them."
He also took a moment to look forward to the Olympics, a major focus over his past two terms as premier, and to restate one of his familiar themes.
"In just eight months — eight months from tonight — we will be in Vancouver with the world's eyes upon us," he said. "And as we do that, know this: This is the best place to live, with the best people, with the most opportunities."
In Victoria, James was re-elected in Victoria-Beacon Hill. She told CBC News that for now she plans to stay on to lead the NDP in the coming term, but will reflect on the loss in the days ahead.
"The results may not be what we hoped for, but the views of our constituents will be well represented," she told a supportive crowd. "Thank you, New Democrats, for the incredible work you put in, in this election."
The Green party managed to capture 8.2 per cent of the popular vote, but failed to win a single seat, including Sterk, who was defeated in her riding of Esquimalt-Royal Roads.
Electoral reform referendum fails
British Columbians also voted not to change the way they elect future provincial governments to the legislative assembly in Victoria. Less than 40 per cent of voters supported the proposed BC-STV system in the referendum on electoral reform. The referendum required more than 60 per cent support for the proposed system to be adopted.B.C. NDP Leader Carole James's concedes her party's electoral defeat at the Empress Hotel in Victoria. (CBC)
The campaign for B.C.'s 39th general election officially kicked off April 14, with Campbell looking to form his third straight government since 2001 and James looking to form her first.
Along the campaign trail, both parties had their share of gaffes, but for the most part, it was a race with few surprises and no major policy shifts that struggled to gain the public's attention.
The B.C. Liberals' campaign focused heavily on the economy, which polls consistently ranked as the No. 1 issue for voters. The NDP ran a more diverse campaign that focused heavily on Campbell's record on hot-button issues such as the collapse of B.C.'s forestry industry, questions about the government sale of BC Rail and funding levels for education, health care and seniors care.
A key challenge for James was her decision to oppose the Campbell government's carbon tax, which led many prominent environmentalists, including David Suzuki, to speak out against her. On the other hand, many environmentalists supported her promise to put a moratorium on the many run-of-river private power projects begun under the Liberals.
For the most part, the two major parties dominated the election, but the Green Party of B.C. ran candidates in every riding, and the B.C. Conservative Party ran candidates in more than 20 ridings.
Voter turnout was 52 per cent, down about eight per cent from the 2005 general election.