British Columbia

B.C. Liberals fall short of majority following final vote count

The final count of the B.C. election has concluded, and the result remains just as uncertain as it was on election night, with the Liberals just short of a majority.

Liberals have first opportunity to form government, but party is one seat short of a majority

The initial vote count for Courtenay-Comox left the NDP's Ronna-Rae Leonard with just nine votes over B.C. Liberal Jim Benninger. The NDP candidate has been declared the winner after a final count. (B.C. NDP and B.C. Liberals)

The final count of the B.C. election has concluded, and the result remains just as uncertain as it was on election night, with the Liberals just short of a majority. 

With all absentee ballots counted in Courtenay-Comox, NDP candidate Ronna-Rae Leonard has won by 189 votes over B.C. Liberal candidate Jim Benninger. 

It means the final seat count is 43 for the Liberals, 41 for the NDP, and 3 for the Green Party. 

It also leaves the Liberals one seat short of 44 seats — and a majority in the legislature — leaving a variety of scenarios in play, including a possible NDP government with the support of the Green Party.

Province-wide, Liberals won more of the popular vote count than the NDP by 1,566 ballots — 796,672 to 795,106 — the closest result in British Columbia's history.

If any riding after the final count is within 1/500th of the total ballots considered, the district electoral officer must apply for an automatic recount. 

But none of the ridings met that threshold — the Liberals were able to hold on to the riding of Richmond-Queensborough by 134 votes, Coquitlam-Burke Mountain by 87 votes, and Vancouver-False Creek by 415 votes after the final count, while the NDP was able to keep Maple Ridge-Mission by 325 votes. 

What comes next?

NDP Leader John Horgan told reporters that his party and the Greens have been in negotiations.

"I'm optimistic we'll be able to put forward a framework that has a majority of the support in the legislature," he said.

"We don't have that today."

Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver and deputy leader Sonia Furstenau arrive to speak to reporters in Victoria following the conclusion of the final count. (Richard Zussman/CBC)

For his part, Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver said that his party was negotiating with both the NDP and the Liberals, and was hopeful the situation would be clarified by next Wednesday, when the premier notifies the lieutenant-governor of her intentions about forming a government.

"It's important to give British Columbians some sense of certainty. That is our goal," he said. 

"We recognize that British Columbians have put a burden of responsibility on us to do the right thing, and we take that seriously." 

Premier Christy Clark is not expected to speak tonight, but did issue a statement saying that "with 43 B.C. Liberal candidates elected as MLAs, and a plurality in the legislature, we have a responsibility to move forward and form a government."

B.C. has elected a minority government. What's next?

6 years ago
Duration 2:43
CBC's legislative reporter Richard Zussman breaks down the likely scenarios.

Why did the final count take so long?

With the public fixated on the count of approximately 179,000 absentee ballots — the results of which have been released over three days — some wondered why it took Elections BC so long.

However, under the Election Act, it's given three days for the final count.

"This is fairly typical in terms of the number of certification envelopes being considered across the province," said Elections BC spokesperson Andrew Watson.

"For districts that have recounts, like Courtenay-Comox and Vancouver-False Creek, the process does take longer, because most of Monday was taken up with conducting the recount [of the initial count]."