B.C. Greens lose third seat; and new COVID restrictions in Metro Vancouver

The B.C. NDP caucus grew by two more MLAs as a result of mail-in and absentee ballots counted over the weekend, increasing John Horgan’s majority to 57 MLAs. The B.C. Green Party lost the only seat they thought they had won in Metro Vancouver following final counts this weekend. The B.C. greens are left with just two MLAs, both on Vancouver Island. However, given the close vote, the riding of West Vancouver-Sea to Sky is subject to an automatic judicial recount. If the result is upheld, the B.C. Liberals will have 28 seats in the upcoming B.C. Legislature, their worst electoral showing since 1991.

This election also marks a significant milestone, as 51% of B.C. NDP MLAs are women. This is the first time in B.C.’s history that a governing party will have more women in caucus than men.

Greens must wait and see about mainland election victory
In a disappointing development for Sonia Furstenau’s B.C. Green Party, the West Vancouver-Sea to Sky riding will go to an automatic judicial recount, leaving the party with just two seats on the Island. Initially, it had appeared B.C. Green candidate Jeremy Valeriote had defeated B.C. Liberal MLA Jordan Sturdy, picking up the party’s first seat on the B.C. mainland, but following additional counting, Elections B.C. determined B.C. Liberal Party incumbent Jordan Sturdy had a narrow lead in the votes. But because the numbers are so close, both parties will have to wait for the judicial recount results in the coming days.

A changing power dynamic
The power dynamic within the returning legislature will be quite different than it was previously. Premier Horgan has a four-year mandate with a majority government and no longer needs to rely on the B.C. Greens for support. The collapse of the B.C. Liberals combined with Horgan’s large majority weakens both opposition parties’ ability to provide checks and balances to power. Indeed, the most significant challenge to Horgan and his government may come from the media, who will likely step up their efforts to hold the government accountable; or from his own caucus, which will lack some of the experienced members of the previous caucus and cabinet.

Cabinet appointments to come
The writs of election will be returned during the week of November 16 in every electoral district, with the exception of West Vancouver-Sea to Sky. While nothing prevents John Horgan from announcing his cabinet before then, convention suggests that he will wait to see the final results in every riding before making his decisions public. Until a new cabinet is announced, previous ministers retain their portfolios. Nowhere is this more evident than at Health, where Minister Dix has rejoined Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry for afternoon media briefings.

Two weeks of new COVID restrictions in Metro Vancouver 
Health Minister Adrian Dix and Provincial Health Officer Bonnie Henry held a rare Saturday press conference to announce new public health orders for Metro Vancouver residents. As a result of a significant increase in new COVID cases, residents are restricted from having social gatherings of any size with anyone other than their immediate household for two weeks. Weddings and funerals may proceed but only with immediate household members. All indoor group physical activities must stop until a local health officer approves updated COVID safety plans. Non-essential travel in and out of the region is discouraged. Dr. Henry said these actions are necessary to keep cases from surging further. She also said the priority is to keep essential services and activities such as schools and workplaces open and said these were in jeopardy without this action.

Dr. Henry urged residents to work together to reduce COVID transmission. British Columbia has flattened the curve before and can do it again, she said, adding that the next two weeks will be critical.