VANCOUVER — At the end of a 28-day campaign where John Horgan campaigned for change, the leader of British Columbia’s New Democrats was ready to claim victory on Tuesday night despite finishing slightly behind the Liberals.
Speaking to hundreds at Vancouver’s convention centre, Horgan said the campaign will go down in history as transforming the province.
“British Columbians voted today to get big money out of politics. British Columbians voted today for proportional representation. British Columbians voted for action for action on climate change. And they voted for an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top,” he said.
The party won 41 seats, but there are still absentee ballots outstanding and there may be recounts, including Courtenay-Comox on Vancouver Island where NDP candidate Ronna-Rae Leonard won by nine votes. The Liberals won 43 seats and the Green three as B.C. elected its first minority government since 1952.
Party leader Andrew Weaver wasn’t giving any indication which of his rivals would get support from the Greens to form a minority government.
The New Democrats had 35 seats when the legislature was dissolved last month.
They picked up some key ridings across the province, including Surrey-Fleetwood where Jagrup Brar defeated cabinet minister Peter Fassbender.
Horgan handily won his own riding of Juan de Fuca, where he was first elected in 2005.
The 57-year-old leader told the crowd this election is special for him.
“This is one of the most humbling moments of my life. I have enjoyed every single minute. I do not regret a single moment,” said Horgan, who was acclaimed the party’s leader in 2014.
The NDP ran on a promise to make life more affordable for British Columbians by scrapping tolls on two busy bridges in Metro Vancouver, implementing $10-a-day childcare and creating an annual $400 subsidy for renters.
“We can’t afford four more years of (Liberal Leader) Christy Clark,” Horgan said on the campaign trail.
The Liberals accused the NDP of failing to explain how they would pay for their campaign promises. Horgan said funding for the plan was sound.
The NDP’s platform proposed raising taxes on high income earners and corporations, and creating a new levy for housing speculators.
Horgan often took swipes at Clark during the campaign, accusing her of putting the interests of wealthy donors ahead of most British Columbians.
But he was also asked to defend his demeanour in a televised debate when the moderator asked if he had anger-management issues.
Horgan responded by saying his anger comes from government inaction on a range of issues, including under funding in schools and a lack of support for children in care.
The New Democrats have been in Opposition since 2001 and lost in 2013 despite polls predicting they would win a majority.
Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press
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