Election 2021: Who we know has been elected so far in B.C., and what’s ahead for our political landscape

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As a Liberal minority government was declared early in the evening based on votes from central and eastern Canada, many B.C. ridings were still locked in down-to-the-wire, heated two- and three-way races.

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The outcome of this federal election, called in the midst of a pandemic, will not significantly change the political landscape across Canada, and the early results in B.C. also don’t predict widespread change locally.

But what emerged was stronger-than-anticipated support for the Liberals, mild gains for the NDP, and a reduction in strength for the Conservatives — despite the fact that many polls had not predicted such results.

“I’m looking at some of the Richmond ridings that were expected to stay Conservative that the Liberals might actually turn,” said Sanjay Jeram, a political scientist at Simon Fraser University. “If things stay as is, I think the strength of the Liberals to hold onto some of these suburban ridings is really going to be the story (Tuesday) morning as to why did Erin O’Toole’s momentum that he had going early in the campaign sort of floundered in these urban ridings he was trying to win.”

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In 2019, of B.C.’s 42 federal seats, the Conservatives took the most with 17, the Liberals and NDP won 11 each, the Greens two, and one was independent.

As of publication time Monday night, Elections Canada predicted, with 93 per cent of polls reported, that the Liberals could take 15 seats in B.C., the NDP would increase its count to 13, the Tories would drop to 13, and the Greens would take one. Of course, that could change, especially because there are still mail-in ballots to be counted.

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Hamish Telford, associate professor of political science at the University of the Fraser Valley, said he was surprised by the early indicators of the strength of the Liberal numbers in B.C.

“Cloverdale-Langley City looks like it’s going to go Liberal, maybe the two Richmond ridings look like they will, and last I saw they were holding on to Vancouver-Granville,” he said.

“And I think the Conservatives may have been hoping on some vote-splitting in more places like West Vancouver-Sea to Sky- Sunshine Coast, and it has not materialized for them. On the other hand, the People’s Party vote has not really materialized either, and has not caused the Conservatives much trouble in most of the B.C. ridings except maybe two in Coquitlam, which may have made Conservative changes there a little more difficult.”

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Late Monday night, there were still some very close races that could lead to surprise victories, as well as major upsets.

SFU political scientist Sanjay Jeram.
SFU political scientist Sanjay Jeram.

In Cloverdale-Langley City, former Liberal MP John Aldag appeared to be seeking revenge on Conservative incumbent Tamara Jansen, who turned the riding blue in 2019.  With nearly all the polls reporting, Aldag had a sizeable lead.

It was a similar story in Steveston-Richmond East where Conservative incumbent Kenny Chiu was trailing Liberal Parm Bains, who appeared poised to handily win and repaint the riding red.

One of the biggest surprises of the evening was in Richmond Centre, where Liberal Wilson Miao was maintaining a slim lead over veteran Tory MP Alice Wong with more than 90 per cent of polls reporting.

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A lot of attention was paid during the campaign to Vancouver-Granville, after Independent Jody Wilson-Raybould did not run for re-election. The race turned out to be one of the closest on election night. With most polls reporting, Liberal Taleeb Noormohamed was in front of the NDP’s Anjali Appadurai by just 0.1 per cent of the vote.

Liberal Taleeb Noormohamed in 2019.
Liberal Taleeb Noormohamed in 2019.

Liberal incumbent Ron McKinnon was expected to face a tough three-way fight to keep his job in Coquitlam-Port Coquitlam, but he appears to have beaten Conservative Katerina Anastasiadis and the NDP’s Laura Dupont.

Liberal cabinet minister Carla Qualtrough, who was minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, has held her Delta seat since 2015, and it was thought she would face a fierce fight with Conservative Garry Shearer, the Delta Chamber of Commerce director. But results suggest she will hold her seat.

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Also expected to be re-elected are her colleagues in cabinet, Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson (North Vancouver) and Defence Harjit Sajjan (Vancouver South).

Dave Hayer, Conservative candidate for Fleetwood-Port Kells.
Dave Hayer, Conservative candidate for Fleetwood-Port Kells.

In Fleetwood-Port Kells, Liberal incumbent Ken Hardie narrowly hung on to his riding in 2019 and the Conservatives had hoped Dave Hayer, a well-known former provincial politician, would unseat him. But early results showed Hardie with a solid lead.

In West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country, Liberal incumbent Patrick Weiler was under pressure from former Tory MP John Weston, who held the riding until 2015 when it turned red, and the NDP’s Avi Lewis. Weiler was ahead of both his competitors with about 88 per cent of polls reported.

Pundits said before the votes were counted that if the NDP made any gains in the province, the party likely needed to snatch North-Seymour — a former orange stronghold — from Liberal Terry Beech, a popular, two-term MP. But NDP candidate Jim Hanson, a two-term District of North Vancouver councillor, was trailing Beech, who had a 10-percent lead by late in the evening. The Conservative was not far behind in third place.

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NDP leader Jagmeet Singh walks with Bonita Zarrillo, the party’s candidate for Port Moody-Coquitlam.
NDP leader Jagmeet Singh walks with Bonita Zarrillo, the party’s candidate for Port Moody-Coquitlam.

The Port Moody-Coquitlam riding was expected to be a very close battle, as it was the tightest race in the 2019 federal election. Early results, however, showed the NDP’s Bonita Zarrillo was leading over incumbent Conservative MP Nelly Shin in this much-watched riding. Liberal candidate Will Davis was in third place, despite the Grits hoping to flip this seat.

Another three-way race was expected in Nanaimo-Ladysmith, where the Green party’s Paul Manly hoped to hold the seat, but was facing stiff competition from both Conservative Tamara Kronis and the NDP’s Lisa Marie Barron. Manly was in third place late Monday, with the NDP poised to reclaim the traditionally orange seat.

lculbert@postmedia.com

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