2017 is a historic year for BC politics. With the closest race in history, and the first minority government since 1953, these are exciting times. For the first time since it’s founding, in 1983, the BC Green Party commands power in the Legislature. An agreement has been reached between the BC Greens and the BC NDP, meaning change for British Columbians after 16 long years with the BC Liberals at the helm.
Looking at the history of voting in British Columbia, the BC Greens have been rising steadily in popularity, but, unfortunately, that hasn’t translated to seats, until Andrew Weaver’s election, in 2013. When you look at the emergence of the BC Liberal Party, and account for the shift from Socred support to Liberal support in 1991, you can understand why the “other” vote decreased so rapidly while the Liberal vote increased. The 2001 blip in voting was immediately following a BC NDP government. After the Glenn Clark scandals, and only 1 year with Ujjal Dosanjh as premier, the NDP took a huge fall, holding only 2 seats after the 2001 election. They managed to rebuild much more quickly than expected, but the damage of their reputation allowed a Liberal government to hold power for 16 years, until 2017, when they were toppled by a minority government supply and confidence agreement between the BC NDP and BC Greens.
Coquitlam-Maillardville has followed the provincial trend quite closely, albeit favouring the NDP over the Liberals, for the most part. NDP candidate, Selina Robinson, defeated Liberal candidate, Steve Kim, by just 41 votes, in the 2013 election. The two candidates ran again in the 2017 election, joined by Nicola Spurling, from the BC Green Party.
The close results from 2013 created a strong vote-splitting narrative, with many constituents choosing to vote strategically, rather than for the party that they wanted. Despite this, BC Green support increased over 20%, from 8.71 to 10.92 percent of the vote. As it turned out, there was little to fear; Selina Robinson defeated Steve Kim by 2919 votes. The hope, for many constituents, is that the next provincial election will be help under a proportional representation system, which is what the BC NDP and BC Greens have committed to ensuring, in their agreement.
Unfortunately, despite Selina Robinson’s impressive win, only 23% of the constituents in Coquitlam-Maillardville voted for her. This is because more than half of eligible voters chose not to go to the polls. The real winner, in this election, was voter apathy. With the promise of proportional representation, hopefully constituents will be convinced that they have a voice, and that their votes count. Only time will tell.
– NICOLA SPURLING –