British Columbia·Photos

Emotional roller coaster for Greens at election celebration

B.C. Green Party supporters cycled through disappointment and delight through a long election night.

Lower than hoped for seat count offset by prospect of king-maker status

Party leader Andrew Weaver introduces Cowichan Valley MLA-elect Sonia Furstenau and North Saanich MLA-elect Adam Olsen as "the first ever Green elected caucus in North America" early Wednesday morning. (Deborah Wilson/CBC)

When B.C. Green Andrew Weaver finally strode onto the stage at his party's celebration shortly after midnight Wednesday morning, it meant a tumultuous end to an emotional roller coaster of an evening for supporters and campaign workers.  

"The reason you are so excited," he told the ecstatic, sign-waving crowd,"[is] we know being a Green is not the easiest path to becoming an MLA."

That much was clear from the emotions in the room as the party's prospects dipped and surged through a long, long night of vote-counting.

Andrew Weaver's parents Ludmilla and John Weaver with CBC reporter Tanya Fletcher. Ludmilla says her son was "a little bit nervous". (Deborah Wilson/CBC)

Deputy party leader Matt Toner was among the early arrivals for the Greens post election bash before polls closed at 8 p.m.

Toner carried a small packet of Cuban cigars, purchased to celebrate what candidates and supporters hoped would be a win of at least four seats, which would mean official party status in the legislature.

Toner, who ran for the B.C. NDP in Vancouver-False Creek before becoming the Greens' deputy leader, was with a contingent who traveled from the Lower Mainland for the Victoria post-election party. 

Early results quickly extinguished the hopes of most Green candidates — including Vanessa Greer (Surrey-Panorama), Simon Rear (Vancouver-Kensington) and Elisa Calder (Vancouver-Kingsway) — who were still hopeful for the party.

"I'm hoping for a Green majority," Calder said. 

Deputy leader Matt Toner with victory cigars ready for results. (Deborah Wilson/CBC)

As the wait for results continued with just one riding — Saanich North and the Islands — showing a Green candidate in the lead, Andrew Weaver's parents, John and Ludmilla, made a visit to the party headquarters and scrambled up the risers to accommodate TV interviewers. 

Paul Elworthy used to campaign for BC Liberal Ida Chong in Oak Bay Gordon Head. Since 2013 he's volunteered for Green Andrew Weaver. (Deborah Wilson/CBC)

Nearly two hours into vote counting, early poll results from the riding of Oak Bay-Gordon Head showed Andrew Weaver in the lead, which was widely expected. 

"It's ok," Paul Elworthy, a campaign canvasser for Weaver said quietly as he watched the screen . "We need a couple more seats."

Gary Belleville, a Green supporter from the Esquimalt-Metchosin riding, admitted some disappointment. 

"Considering how much popular support we have, two seats is not a genuine reflection of the support we have in the province," Belleville said. 

Mark Neufeld and son at celebrations for the B.C. Green Party. (Deborah Wilson/CBC)

The mood in the room shifted as the CBC Election Special showed the Greens' Adam Olsen's win in North Saanich and the Islands, and cheers and chants started as Sonia Furstenau took the lead in Cowichan Valley. 

Meanwhile, the Liberals' early lead in the seat count fell below the minimum of 44 for a majority, raising the prospect of the Greens holding the balance of power in a minority government.

"This is the dream scenario," Green Party legislative press secretary Mat Wright said.  

(L-R) Sabine Moller, Jordan Cramen and Christina Winter celebrate as 3 seats and a potential role in minority government looks likely for Greens. (Deborah Wilson/CBC)

Mark Neufeld, who came third as the Green candidate in Saanich South, stood quietly with his son Jakob resting an arm on his shoulder.

"My son seems to always come to me at the right time. he said.

Neufeld, a high-school teacher, acknowledged the high number of young people in the crowd. More than half his campaign team are former students, he said. 

"They can say legitimately that they've changed history," he said. 

Nearby, campaign volunteers Jordan Cramen, Christina Winter and Sabine Möller group-hugged, high-fived and danced.

"We're really excited because this means a lot for the future of B.C.," Möller said.