Coralee Oakes retains her seat in Cariboo North

Close race provincially, minority government a possibility

KEN ALEXANDER

Observer Reporter

Cariboo North B.C. Liberal candidate Coralee Oakes learned around 10 p.m. May 9 she will, once again, be representing her constituents in the Legislative Assembly in Victoria.

More than 11,000 ballots were cast in the May 9 provincial election, and Oakes garnered 5,969 to handily beat her nearest rival – NDP candidate Scott Elliot who picked up 4,117.

Green candidate Richard Jaques came in third with with 836 votes and Conservative candidate Tony Goulet collected 690 votes.

Oakes says she is a “little overwhelmed and deeply humbled because it was an incredibly tough election” for the B.C. Liberals.

“I knew it was going to be really close. All of the candidates worked hard and brought forward contrasting messages. The volunteers for the last month of all of the participating parties worked so hard – it’s humbling.”

Asked about her thoughts on the strong, hard-working female Liberal MLAs up and down Highway 97 – herself, Prince George-Valemount MLA Shirley Bond, Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett and Fraser-Nicola MLA Jackie – being re-elected, Oakes says she would add Boundary-Similkameen MLA Linda Larson to the list.

“All of us are passionate advocates for rural British Columbia. We represent the smaller communities … really interesting areas and we have a lot of unincorporated areas.

“I think sometimes the representation as MLAs is different than our colleagues.”

She adds women tend to look at things a little differently, too.

“The one thing that stood out for me personally on this campaign is the amount of young women and girls who came up to me and said, ‘I want to be the prime minster or I want to be the premier.

“I think we’re seeing new opportunities and that means there’s going to be a change.”

Provincially, Oakes says her party always knew it was going to be a really close election race.

On Election 2017 night, the B.C. Liberals finished election night with 43 elected seats and 41 per cent of the popular vote.

The NDP ended up 41 elected seats and 41 per cent of the popular vote.

Oakes notes everyone is going to have to wait for two weeks to see what the final count will be because any recounts and absentee ballots will have to be counted.

Both party leaders are suggesting the recount will make their seat count stronger.

Meanwhile, the Green Party tripled the number of seats it will have the Legislative Assembly from one to three, and doubled its percentage of the popular vote.

The Greens now hold the balance of power and may determine which of the leading parties will give it the best deal to help form a minority government.

That, of course, depends on whether Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver wants to jump in bed with one of the other parties, and whether the possible recounts and a absentee ballots count will change the number of seats held by the NDP and the B.C. Liberals.