British Columbia

Christy Clark says economy a priority after election win

B.C. Premier Christy Clark says she is going to "get down to the business of governing" after a Liberal majority win, but she still has to fight for a seat in the legislature.

B.C. premier still needs a seat in the provincial legislature after losing her riding

B.C. Liberals' surprise victory

The National

8 years ago
CBC's Chris Brown on Christy Clark's B.C. election upset 4:10

B.C. Premier Christy Clark says she is going to "get down to the business of governing" after a Liberal majority win, but she still has to fight for a seat in the legislature.

Clark lost her Vancouver-Point Grey riding to New Democrat David Eby by 785 votes on Tuesday night, marking the first time since 1924 that a B.C. politician has become premier without winning a seat.

While Clark can hold the title of premier without a seat, she can’t enter the legislature. It’s likely an MLA in a so-called "safe" Liberal riding will step aside to allow Clark to run in a byelection.

Despite the loss of her riding, voters handed Clark's Liberals at least 50 seats and a fourth consecutive governing term in the legislature.

Speaking at a news conference Wednesday, Clark said she had felt momentum building in her party's favour throughout the campaign.

"I had a better sense than most people, because I was talking to so many people, in so many communities, about what was happening on the ground," she said.

Clark said she was skeptical of the multiple polls predicting a decisive NDP win.

"Polls do not tell us how people are going to vote because voting day is the only day that they vote," she said.

"You guys get this stuff for free and you should take it for what it's worth."

When asked about losing her riding, Clark said she doesn't regret anything in the campaign, saying everyone on her campaign team in the riding "worked their hearts out."

"Now that we have a clear mandate from the people of British Columbia, we are going to get down to the business of governing immediately."

Clark said she would wait until official results are available on May 27 to determine how she will proceed in terms of securing a seat.

"We'll see what the results are, and then we can have that conversation then," Clark said. "In the meantime, though, we're going to get down to work on making sure we grow this economy."

The New Democrats remain the Official Opposition with 33 seats, down three seats from their standing heading into the  election.

The Liberal victory came as a shock to many, after polls showed the party trailing the NDP by as much as 20 points before the campaign began.

New Democrat Leader Adrian Dix says members of his party will spend the next little while soul searching following Tuesday night's devastating loss.

Clark said she feels the televised debate gave people in B.C. an opportunity to "compare and contrast" all the leaders and their visions for the province.

"I think that had an impact on the momentum that picked up in the campaign," she said.

Premier seatless

While Clark led her Liberals to victory, New Democrat David Eby took her Vancouver-Point Grey riding. It was a rematch of their 2011 byelection, when Clark beat Eby by 564 votes.

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Eby, who stepped down from his post as executive director of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association to run for the NDP, ran a strong campaign in the riding.

On the other hand, Clark didn't appear at any of the candidate debates, only making brief appearances between stops elsewhere around the province.

Eby says two issues dominated the race in Vancouver-Point Grey.

"The first is the environment, the issue of the increase in tanker traffic off the coast and the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline project … Christy Clark [is] ignoring that as an issue," he said.

"And the second is the community connection, the fact that I live in the neighbourhood. I've been at the all-candidates meetings. It's really resonated with people. We've worked really hard in this riding and people in this neighbourhood knew it."

Low turnout

As in previous years, voter turnout was low on Tuesday, with preliminary figures showing just 52 per cent of eligible voters cast a ballot, up slightly from 51 per cent in 2009.

The majority of seats on Vancouver Island were won by the NDP, with the Liberals taking the Comox Valley and Parksville Qualicum, while the Green Party's Andrew Weaver took 40 per cent of the vote in Oak Bay-Gordon Head to bounce Liberal cabinet minister Ida Chong.

Former NDP leader Carole James held on to her seat of Victoria Beacon Hill, defeating Green Party Leader Jane Sterk.

The riding of Saanich North and the Islands is likely headed for a recount after New Democrat Gary Holman beat Liberal Stephen Roberts by just 52 votes.

Key upsets

On the mainland, all Surrey ridings stayed with their incumbent parties, except for Surrey-Fleetwood, where the former mayor of Langley, Peter Fassbender, gained a seat for the Liberals.

B.C. Conservative Leader John Cummins was defeated in Langley, where Liberal incumbent Mary Polak was re-elected.

Meanwhile, the NDP gained two seats in Vancouver. Former health minister Margaret MacDiamid lost to the NDP's George Heyman in Fairview, while Clark lost to Eby in Point Grey.

The Liberals made gains in Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows, with Doug Bing taking that seat, and in Port Moody-Coquitlam, with Linda Reimer taking the riding from former Port Moody Mayor Joe Trasolini.

The other changeover occurred in Delta North, with the Liberals' Scott Hamilton winning the seat.

Vicki Huntington became the first Independent ever re-elected as an MLA, as she held her seat in Delta-South.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper congratulated Clark and her team on the election victory.

"I look forward to continuing to work with Premier Clark on issues that matter to British Columbians and all Canadians, including jobs, growth and long-term economic prosperity," said a statement from Harper's office.

The victory marks the fourth straight win for the B.C. Liberals, who were first elected in 2001 when Gordon Campbell led the party to the largest majority government in provincial history, winning 77 of 79 seats.

In Tuesday's election, the Liberals won 44.4 per cent of the popular vote and 50 Liberals were elected in the province's 85 ridings.

Not only did Clark defy countless polls predicting her defeat, she increased her party's majority in the legislature by five seats and became the first woman to be elected premier in a general election in B.C.

The NDP won 39.5 per cent of the popular vote, giving the party 33 seats in the legislature, three fewer seats than it held before the election.