British Columbia

Huntington defeats Oppal in B.C. election recount

Independent candidate Vicki Huntington has defeated high profile B.C. Liberal cabinet minister Wally Oppal in the riding of Delta South in one of two provincial election recounts concluded on Tuesday.

Close result in Delta South triggered automatic judicial recount

Vicki Huntington says she hopes to usher in a new form of representation in the legislature. ((CBC))

Independent candidate Vicki Huntington has defeated high-profile B.C. Liberal cabinet minister Wally Oppal in the riding of Delta South in one of two provincial election recounts concluded on Tuesday.

"We're off on an adventure — a new form of representation in the province — and I personally hopes that it spreads," said Huntington, who is the province's first Independent candidate to win a seat in the legislature in 60 years.

"What the voters of this province want is to know that their voice and their concerns are being represented in Victoria, rather than have Victoria  telling us and our communities what will be the decisions made for them."

In the second recount, B.C. Liberal Donna Barnett was named the winner in the Cariboo-Chilcotin riding by 88 votes over New Democrat Charlie Wyse.

The recounts leave the governing Liberals with 49 seats and the NDP with 35 seats in the legislature, with Huntington sitting as the only Independent.

Oppal, the province's attorney general, was declared the winner in Delta South by just three votes on election day, May 12, but after Tuesday's recount included absentee ballots, Huntington came out ahead by 32 votes.

"Nobody needs to feel sorry for me," Oppal said Tuesday. "I had a great run. I enjoyed the job. It's a killer of a job, but the public should understand these are tough jobs.

"It has been a wonderful four years. And I have no misgivings and no hard feelings. And I just thank the public for giving me the privilege and the right to do this."

Wally Oppal says no one needs to feel sorry for him about his defeat because he had a great run in provincial politics. ((CBC))

The result in Delta South is still subject to an automatic judicial recount because the margin of victory was fewer than one-500th of all votes cast. If the result stands, Huntington would be the first Independent elected to the B.C. provincial legislature since 1949.

Kenn Faris, event communications manager for Elections BC, said an application will be made to the B.C. Supreme Court within six days.

"The Supreme Court will then set a date and time, assuming they're going to hear this, and it'll be up to the court schedule as to when the recount at the judicial level will happen," Faris said.

Huntington, a five-term local municipal councillor, rode to victory on a wave of dissent over the Liberals' decision to allow a high voltage power line to be built through the suburban community of Tsawwassen, south of Vancouver.

Oppal, a former B.C. Supreme Court and Appeal Court of B.C. justice, left the bench to win the Vancouver-Fraserview riding in the 2005 election. He was made attorney general and gained a reputation for his plainspoken style and his desire to reform the justice system.

He then switched ridings to Delta South for the 2009 election, vacating his old seat for former police chief Kash Heed. Both men are South Asian Canadians and the Vancouver-Fraserview riding has a large South Asian immigrant population.

Premier Gordon Campbell said the result reflected the difficult issues the government had to deal with in Delta South.

"We had to provide electricity services to people on Vancouver Island and that obviously generated a lot of anger, I think, in Delta South," Campbell said Tuesday afternoon.

"It is a provincial responsibility we have, obviously, solving one of the first aboriginal treaties, modern treaties, with the Tsawwassen, I think, some people responded to that. I do think it was an important thing for us to do," he added. 

Liberal challenger wins Cariboo-Chilcotin seat

In the second recount in the Cariboo-Chilcotin riding, Wyse was originally declared the winner by just 23 votes on election night. After the ballots were recounted on Monday and the absentee ballots were included on Tuesday, Barnett was found to be the winner.

Because of the 88-vote margin of victory, there is no automatic judicial recount in the Cariboo-Chilcotin race. Wyse told CBC News he accepts the outcome and will not seek a judicial recount on other grounds.

"I have extended my personal congratulations to Donna Barnett," he said Tuesday.

"I also want to recognize my supporters and volunteers that worked on my campaign.… The electorate is always correct. We accept that and we move on."

In 2005, Wyse won the local riding, formerly called Cariboo-Chilcotin, by just over 114 votes.

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