Premier David Eby has once more publicly ruled out an early election after New Democrats won both by-elections held June 24.
“I’m not interested in an early election,” he said Monday (June 26) at an unrelated event in Vancouver.
He went on to say that B.C. faces “big challenges,” including health care, housing, mental health and addictions and British Columbians want government to deal with those issues rather than head to the polls.
Joan Phillip, the wife of Union of BC Indian Chiefs president Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, won Vancouver-Mount Pleasant with almost 68 per cent of the vote. BC United’s Jackie Lee garnered almost 14 per cent, followed by Wendy Hayko of the BC Green Party, who won just under 11.5 per cent. Karin Litzcke of the Conservative Party of BC won just under 5 per cent and Kimball Cariou of the Communist Party of BC won just over 2 per cent.
Phillip will take the place of Melanie Mark.
Ravi Parmar, meanwhile, won Langford-Juan de Fuca, the riding previously held by former premier John Horgan.
Parmar won 53.35 per cent of the vote, almost 15 per cent less than Horgan when he last won the riding in 2020. Mike Harris of the Conservative Party of BC won almost 20 per cent while Camille Currie of the BC Green Party won 17.6 per cent. Elena Lawson of BC United won 8.63 per cent while Tyson Riel Strandlund of the Communist Party of BC won 0.55 per cent.
Eby said the results reflect the strength of the New Democratic candidates in those ridings.
“These are candidates who are champions of their communities and have been for a long time,” he said. “They are well-known in their communities. They’ve done exceptional work.”
With both ridings considered safe NDP seats, much of the post-election analysis has focused on the performance of the opposition, specifically, BC United, formerly known as BC Liberals.
While turnout in by-elections often appears low, BC United saw its share of the vote drop in both ridings, when compared to 2020.
This performance comes some 70 days after the BC Liberals had changed their name to BC United, raising questions about the role of the name change. The strong performance of the Conservatives, who did not field a candidate in 2020, also raises other questions, including whether BC United is bleeding votes to the right without picking up support from non-voters and dissatisfied New Democrats.
A party spokesperson declined to directly answer those questions, but BC United Leader Kevin Falcon released a statement Monday.
“When we changed our party name just two months ago, we knew that it would take time for voters to learn who we were and that we’d likely pay a price for having a relatively unknown brand in the pending by-elections,” he said.
“That was a price we were prepared to pay in order to immediately get started on building our new brand identity and connecting with people in every corner of the province,” he added. “These results show exactly why we undertook the name change well ahead of the next scheduled provincial election in October 2024.”
He pointed specifically to what he called a “dramatic” decline in the NDP’s share of the vote.
On the other hand, provincial Conservatives are celebrating their performance in Langford-Juan de Fuca, where they were running a candidate for the first time in recent history.
Leader John Rustad, long-time MLA of Nechako Lakes, said on social media that the party would run a full slate of candidates in 2024, promising to unite the right but on his party’s terms.
Rustad, a former minister who previously had sat with the BC Liberals before Falcon kicked him out of caucus for questioning climate change, said the results from Langford show that B.C. is looking for “genuine change” and “a principled alternative” in congratulating Harris.
His “historic by-election result marks the beginning of the end for BCU,” Rustad said.
Parmar, for this part, won’t be the MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca very long, as the riding will fold into two ridings: Langford-Highlands and Juan de Fuca-Malahat.