Nanaimo MLA-elect Sheila Malcolmson of the B.C. NDP watches election results come in at her campaign office Saturday night. (Photo submitted)

Nanaimo MLA-elect Sheila Malcolmson of the B.C. NDP watches election results come in at her campaign office Saturday night. (Photo submitted)

B.C. chooses NDP government, Malcolmson re-elected as Nanaimo MLA

NDP heading for majority

Nanaimo has re-elected Sheila Malcolmson as MLA and voters across B.C. have chosen to return the NDP to power, this time with a majority government.

With all the ballot boxes counted in the Nanaimo riding, the NDP incumbent Malcolmson received more than 50 per cent of the vote, with Green candidate Lia Versaevel and B.C. Liberals candidate Kathleen Jones each at a little below 25 per cent.

Malcolmson said because the campaign was physically distanced and she wasn’t knocking on doors, she didn’t know going into election day if what she was hearing and sensing about voters’ intentions was accurate.

She said people who have never voted NDP before recognized Premier John Horgan’s leadership and she said they have felt safe during the pandemic and appreciated the spending decisions the government has made.

“I’m very encouraged to hear that landed with voters broadly and it just points to how important it is, the work that’s ahead of us,” Malcolmson said. “There’s never been a more important time to invest in people and the social safety net.”

She said going from a split legislature to a majority, the NDP may be able to move ahead on some past campaign promises such as the renters’ rebate and $10-a-day child care.

“We’re going to be able to set the tone and advance more quickly the economic recovery investment and our commitment to invest in people is vitally necessary,” she said.

106 of 106 ballot boxes in Nanaimo have now been counted. Sheila Malcolmson of the NDP has received 8,041 votes (52.8% of the vote), Lia Versaevel representing the Greens has gotten 3,705 (24.3%) and Kathleen Jones of the B.C. Liberals has 3,498 (23%).

Tali Campbell, campaign manager for the Liberal candidate in Nanaimo, said there was a low voter turnout and noted that there are thousands of mail-in votes still to be counted.

“I thought, overall though, it was a pretty positive campaign from all sides, whether it was through a debate or through the various events that we crossed paths between Lia and Sheila…” Campbell said. “I still will, to the day I die, think this is an unnecessary election that was called and John Horgan swept in on that.”

He said Nanaimo residents’ and voters’ goal now is to hold the NDP government accountable and to ensure it deals with major issues in Nanaimo, such as lack of health care infrastructure or homelessness and the opioid crisis.

“We have to make sure every day, every week, every month, that we’re on Sheila’s doorstep making sure that those issues are front and centre in Victoria,” Campbell said.

Versaevel said her team’s second-place effort was impressive, and made for an interesting and encouraging night for the Greens.

“We were thinking we could get more seats [but] we are inspired,” she said. “Of course if we had proportional representation, we’d be having a much greater voice than we’ve ever had before, but that’s another bridge to cross.”

She said campaigning in a pandemic limited connections with people.

“We certainly couldn’t get out to speak to people. We couldn’t knock on doors. We couldn’t have gatherings,” Versaevel said. “We don’t know what happened in long-term care facilities and those kinds of places where people’s ballots were probably not completed directly by themselves. There was a lot of variables that certainly threw a monkey wrench into this for us, not withstanding just the very short time period.”

The Nanaimo riding has 47,798 registered voters and 11,468 vote-by-mail packages were issued.

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NDP’s Walker has an edge over Liberal incumbent Stilwell in Parksville-Qualicum

B.C. NDP candidate Adam Walker is the front-runner in the Parksville-Qualicum Beach riding as ballots are tabulated following Saturday’s provincial election.

With 116 of 116 polls reporting Walker earned 7,308 votes (39.8%) to 6,366 (34.7%) for Michelle Stilwell of the B.C. Liberal Party. Rob Lyon of the B.C. Green Party finished in third place with 3,319 votes (18.1%), followed by Don Purdy of the Conservatives with 999 (5.4%) and independent candidate John St. John with 378 (2.1%).

While Canadian Press has declared Walker as the winner of the riding as of Saturday night, results will not be formally confirmed until after mail-in ballots are tabulated, sometime after Nov. 6. Results from Elections B.C. so far include advance voting and day-of votes.

Walker declined comment on the results, while Stilwell said she is awaiting the count of the outstanding ballots to see the will of the electorate.

“I certainly believe that my people vote in Parksville-Qualicum,” Stilwell said. “They take democracy very seriously, and I trust that the vote will come out and the people will say what they want and what they believe. I work hard for this community and I hope they’ll give me that confidence and we’ll wait maybe two weeks to get that decision.”

Stilwell said the snap election call has been a challenge for democracy.

“It didn’t allow candidates to get their message out for people to have the ability to learn what the different platforms are and what people stand for, whey they believe in and what their plan is…” she said. “At the end of the day the people have had the opportunity to vote, to have their say and we’ll wait for the result and we will respect that result.”

Parksville-Qualicum has 48,496 registered voters and 14,273 mail-in ballots were requested.

NDP’s Routley wins another term representing Nanaimo-North Cowichan

Doug Routley of the NDP has been re-elected as MLA in Nanaimo-North Cowichan, keeping the seat for the party.

Routley, who’s been the riding’s MLA since 2005, earned 7,856 votes (47.2%) with 94 of 94 polls reporting. Chris Istace of the B.C. Green Party received 5,228 votes (31.4%), with 3,554 votes (21.4%) for Duck Paterson of the B.C. Liberal Party.

Routley said he and other NDP members feel grateful.

“Now we feel like the job has just begun. The hard work starts with rebuilding from this pandemic and getting people through it,” Routley said.

Paterson extended his congratulations to his opponents.

“I respect both of them very much for letting their names stand, and I congratulate Doug for another go round at it,” he said.

That riding has 45,841 voters, 9,956 of whom requested vote-by-mail packages.

RELATED: British Columbians vote for province’s next leadership in 2020 election

British Columbians voted today, Oct. 24 – and in record numbers leading up to today – to determine the makeup of the next provincial government.

Provincewide, there are 87 seats being contested in the election. At the dissolution of the most recent legislature, the governing NDP and the opposition B.C. Liberals held 41 seats each, the Green party held two, there were two independent MLAs and one vacancy.

Just voted at Dover Bay Secondary School, it took no more than a couple of minutes, no lineup at all. Here's some…

Posted by Nanaimo News Bulletin on Saturday, October 24, 2020

B.C. VOTES 2020: Nanaimo candidates

B.C. VOTES 2020: Nanaimo-North Cowichan candidates

B.C. VOTES 2020: Parksville-Qualicum candidates

-files from Canadian Press

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