A big crop of new, mostly NDP MLAs and a spiking COVID-19 infection rate make it questionable whether B.C. Premier John Horgan can call the legislature into session before the end of 2020 to deliver on one of his key campaign promises.
“We do hope to bring the legislature back before Christmas, but with the increasing cases in the past ten days or so, that has challenged our ability to bring people together in Victoria for swearing in,” Horgan told reporters Oct. 9. With 21 new government MLAs and five opposition newcomers, swearing in by Lt. Governor Janet Austin and interviews for cabinet appointments have to be finished first.
Asked about his campaign promise to send out another round of pandemic payments, $1,000 per household or $500 to individuals, Horgan kept his option open to do the $1.4 billion expenditure by cabinet order. With a 57-seat majority after a record counting of mail-in ballots was completed, the legislature vote would be a formality.
“My first choice is to recall the legislature, get this business done and passed for people, and then move on,” Horgan said.
Newly elected NDP MLAs include Pam Alexis in Abbotsford-Mission, who edged out incumbent B.C. Liberal Simon Gibson. Roly Russell replaces retired B.C. Liberal Linda Larson in Boundary-Similkameen, and Harwinder Sandhu took Vernon-Monashee from B.C. Liberal Eric Foster.
The NDP’s unexpected Chilliwack sweep includes Kelli Paddon, who defeated independent Laurie Throness in Chilliwack-Kent after he resigned from the B.C. Liberal Party over his remarks about birth control. Dan Coulter takes over for incumbent B.C. Liberal John Martin in Chilliwack.
Another upset was Langley, where Andrew Mercier defeated B.C. Liberal veteran Mary Polak, and the NDP’s Megan Dykeman took the seat long held by retired B.C. Liberal Rich Coleman. B.C. Liberal incumbent Marvin Hunt lost to NDP newcomer Mike Starchuk in Surrey-Cloverdale.
New B.C. Liberal MLAs include Bruce Banman in Abbotsford South, replacing retired B.C. legislature speaker Darryl Plecas, Lorne Doerkson replacing retired political veteran Donna Barnett in Cariboo-Chilcotin, and Renee Merrifield, elected in Kelowna Mission after the retirement of former forests minister Steve Thomson. Trevor Halford held Surrey-White Rock for the B.C. Liberals after the retirement of one-term MLA Tracy Redies, and Karin Kirkpatrick replaced six-term B.C. Liberal Ralph Sultan in West Vancouver-Capilano.
Former NDP MP Fin Donnelly defeated first-term B.C. Liberal Joan Isaacs in Coquitlam-Burke Mountain, and former Tofino mayor Josie Osborne held Mid Island-Pacific Rim for the NDP after the retirement of another former Tofino mayor, Scott Fraser.
Brittny Anderson held Nelson-Creston for the NDP after the retirement of Michelle Mungall, and Jennifer Whiteside replaced the retired Judy Darcy in the NDP stronghold of New Westminster. Michele Babchuk is the MLA-elect for North Island after the retirement of Claire Trevena, and Susie Chant took North Vancouver-Seymour for the NDP from B.C. Liberal Jane Thornthwaite.
Former NDP MP Murray Rankin replaces Andrew Weaver in Oak Bay-Gordon Head, reducing the B.C. Green Party to two MLAs, pending a judicial recount in West Vancouver-Sea to Sky where Green Jeremy Valeriote lost to B.C. Liberal incumbent Jordan Sturdy by 41 votes.
Former MP Nathan Cullen held Stikine for the NDP after the retirement of Doug Donaldson, and the NDP’s Adam Walker defeated two-term MLA Michelle Stilwell in Parksville-Qualicum, leaving no B.C. Liberals on Vancouver Island.
In close wins for the NDP in Lower Mainland seats, Aman Singh took Richmond-Queensborough from one-term B.C. Liberal Jas Johal, and Henry Yao defeated B.C. Liberal Alexa Loo in Richmond South Centre. Former Vancouver mayor Sam Sullivan was defeated by NDP newcomer Brenda Bailey in Vancouver-False Creek, and Niki Sharma held Vancouver-Hastings for the NDP after the retirement of Shane Simpson.