Davies returned to legislature as Wilkinson concedes defeat

Dan Davies was re-elected MLA for Peace River North on Oct. 24, winning 5,902 ballots and 56% of the popular vote.

“I want to thank everybody who came out to vote,” the BC Liberal incumbent said Saturday before a group of supporters at the Fort St. John curling rink. “Unfortunately this was a snap election called purely for the benefit of John Horgan,” Davies said. “He took advantage of the polls, he broke the law on fixed election dates.”

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Initial counts show 10,480 voters turned out to the polls, including 5,800 who turned out to advanced polls Oct. 15 to 21, and 1,588 by mail.

BC Conservative leader Trevor Bolin had 3,679 votes, and the NDP’s Danielle Monroe 899.

Davies won by a margin of more than 2,200 votes, and turnout was down from the 14,646 votes cast in 2017.

In Peace River South, Mike Bernier was re-elected for the BC Liberals with 3,215 votes, and 51% of the popular vote.

Both Davies and Bernier again find themselves in Opposition.

The New Democrats are projected to have won a majority government. With more than 500,000 mail-in ballots still to be counted, the results election night gave the NDP 53 seats, the Liberals 27, the Greens three seats, and four riding were undecided.

“We did a lot of good things as Opposition in the last three and a half years,” said Davies, who served as the Opposition critic last term.

Davies said pushing the NDP on the province’s economic recovery is key, not just for the northeast, but for all of B.C. He criticized Horgan for chasing industry and investment away from the province over his last term.

“We need good education, we know that. We all need good healthcare, we know that,” Davies said.

“We need to take care of people, we need to take care of our roads, we need to build a Taylor Bridge. We need to make sure we are champions of our resource sector,” he said.

Wilkinson concedes, resigns

Elections BC says it hopes to deliver final results by Nov. 16, but the date isn’t firm as it’s unclear how much time will be needed to count the mail-in ballots.

BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson announced he was resigning on Monday afternoon.

"It's clear that the NDP will be forming the next government of British Columbia," said Wilkinson. "Leading the BC Liberals has been a great honour, but now it's time for me to make room for somebody else to take over this role."

Shortly after 5 p.m. on Sunday, Wilkinson conceded the election in a tweet. 

“I’ve just got off the phone with John Horgan and congratulated him on his win. The people of B.C. have spoken, and I want to thank every BC Liberal candidate and volunteer who helped make this campaign happen,” tweeted Wilkinson.

“We’re still in the middle of a devastating pandemic, and our focus remains on making sure every person in the province is safe, healthy and able to get back on their feet.”

On election night, after the major broadcasting networks called a BC NDP majority, Wilkinson did not concede defeat saying that his party would wait for the final count as hundreds of thousands of votes have yet to be counted.

Conservative vote up

Preliminary vote counts from election day show the Conservatives won 28,416 ballots, or 2.35% of the popular vote. That's up 18,000 votes, or 172%, from the 2017 election.

"I want to thank everyone for their support over the last month, and the voters who believed in our platform, and trusted us with those votes," Bolin said in a statement.

"We have heard from tens of thousands of people across B.C., and this has been an amazing opportunity to hear what people expect from their Governments today and into the future."

Meanwhile, students in Peace River North voted for the BC Conservatives and gave Bolin a seat in the legislature in a mock vote held last week. 

Bolin won with 353 votes, with Davies finishing second with 337 votes. The NDP’s Danielle Monroe received 143 votes.

In Peace River South, Conservative candidate Kathleen Connolly picked up 1,955 votes on election day, while Bernier won the riding in the student vote with 305 votes.

Horgan promises to work across party lines

The election results show a divided province with Liberal victories in many rural ridings and the New Democrats in urban areas, but Premier John Horgan says his government will be influenced by good ideas, not politics.

The NDP's election win in B.C. will see a government guided by strong ideas, not politics, Horgan said Sunday.

"I'll be influenced by good ideas wherever they come from," Horgan said Sunday at his first news conference following the election result. "I don't care where an idea comes from, if it makes sense we're going to implement it. That's how I will approach working with all members of the legislature."

Horgan said now that there is a majority government he plans to spend more time outside of the legislature meeting people across B.C.

"I would have liked to have seen better results in rural B.C.," he said. "I'm going to have to do some more work, clearly, to get to those communities. Clearly, having a majority government will allow me to get out of Victoria."

B.C. followed New Brunswick on Saturday, becoming the second province to hold an election during the COVID-19 pandemic. Voters in Saskatchewan go to the polls on Monday.

— with files from The Canadian Press, Glacier Syndicated

Email Managing Editor Matt Preprost at editor@ahnfsj.ca.

[Eds. note: Article corrects to note the initial counts included advanced voting, and to note turnout was down from 2017.]

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