BC election exposed a polarized province


Not surprisingly, a B.C. election with what many believed had no single polarizing issue left the province in a near dead heat between the BC Liberals and NDP, with the BC Greens bumping their seats to three and playing the role of potential majority spoiler.

It is within the realm of possibility after absentee ballots are counted and judicial recounts done that B.C. will have a majority Liberal government.

"We have been presented with an opportunity by British Columbians to open a whole new dialogue in our province, in our Legislature", Clark said.

"I think there's two major issues that are very important to both parties and these are obvious ones and they're no-cost items, as well", he said.

"It could be a disaster", said Johnston about the enormous difficulties in changing the way a province votes, "but if they can pull it off it would transform B.C. politics".

NDP Leader John Horgan opposes Kinder Morgan's C$7.4 billion ($5.4 billion) Trans Mountain oil pipeline expansion and has also expressed reservations about the $27 billion Pacific Northwest liquefied natural gas terminal that Malaysia's Petronas wants to build.

The Greens haven't said anything about who they would support in the new government. The party took several Liberal ridings in the city of Vancouver and won a handful of battleground ridings in the suburbs of Metro Vancouver, including seats in Surrey, Coquitlam and Delta. The situation puts the parties in a position to cut a deal - and the Greens would have plenty of clout in any arrangement, according to experts.

Clark, 51, told supporters early Wednesday she intends to remain premier.

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Horgan sought to portray Clark as out of touch with regular British Columbians who feel the economy is not working for them, while Weaver cast the Greens as political outsiders.

"In Courtenay-Comox, the greens made big gains and the NDP Lost, and yet the NDP winds up there in a virtual tie with the Liberals who really collapsed in that riding", Cameron says.

Among the casualties of the night was prominent BC Liberal cabinet minister Peter Fassbender, the former education minister, who conceded defeat to the NDP's Jagrup Brar in Surrey-Fleetwood. Most of the thermal coal exports come from U.S. mines.

But for now, the real power doesn't actually rest in Clark's hands, despite her party falling just one seat shy of a majority.

A Liberal campaign focused on economic growth, job creation and balanced budgets did not inspire middle-class voters in the Lower Mainland whose incomes have not kept pace with the rising cost of living, where homeownership is becoming a distant dream and rental properties are few and far between.

"Let's hang tight... and get back to the party", he concluded. When the election was called, the Liberals had 47 seats, the New Democrats 35, and there were three Independents, including Weaver. The 1952 minority government lasted nine months, before W.A.C. Bennett won a majority and governed for another 19 years.

Negative ads and attacks between the NDP and the Liberals over political fundraising laws that place no limits on corporate and union donations have also been a prime part of the political debate. Horgan said funding for the plan was sound.