Analysis: A smooth transition for B.C. NDP in Nanaimo byelection

Blow to B.C. Greens, John Horgan’s hold on power remains slim

The B.C. NDP’s win in the Nanaimo by-election stabilizes their hold on a minority government at the B.C. legislature, maintaining the status quo two-vote edge that emerged after the 2017 election.

The result in Nanaimo is a considerable setback for the B.C. Greens, who ran an aggressive campaign and still lost more than half of their 2017 share of the vote. Their current three Vancouver Island seats are a high-water mark for the party, which captured 17 per cent of the vote province-wide and saw that fall to about seven per cent in Wednesday’s by-election.

The B.C. Liberals increased their vote share compared to the 2017 election, where Nanaimo was won handily by NDP incumbent Leonard Krog, whose decision to run for mayor triggered the by-election.

Aside from the B.C. Liberal near-wipeout win in 2001, the NDP has held Nanaimo since 1971. But the slam-dunk scenario for the NDP in Nanaimo is overstated, especially in a by-election.

RESULTS: NDP’s Malcolmson takes nearly 50 per cent of Nanaimo vote

Former premier Christy Clark’s 2013 win after an arranged vacancy in Kelowna West is a rare example of a governing B.C. party holding a by-election, the first since 1981. And that was with a sitting premier running in a traditionally solid B.C. Liberal seat.

The NDP took by-elections in Chilliwack as well as Port Moody-Coquitlam before giving them back to the majority B.C. Liberals the 2013 general election. Their Nanaimo win Wednesday reverses a long trend against sitting governments in the protest votes that often define by-elections.

In the most recent indication of support before Wednesday, Nanaimo residents voted 54 per cent against proportional representation. Even Premier John Horgan’s Juan de Fuca constituency only narrowly supported the referendum last fall, despite Horgan’s NDP pushing hard for a yes vote.

In the 2015 federal election, Malcomson took about a third of votes to win the Nanaimo-Ladysmith seat relatively narrowly. With turnout of more than 70 per cent, the Liberal and Conservative candidates were nearly tied with about 22 per cent each.

Horgan’s hold on power isn’t immediately threatened, even with the loss of a seat. The next critical “confidence” vote is likely to be on Finance Minister Carole James’ spring budget, and it may be a year before there is another vote that puts the NDP minority on the line.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislature

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Ranch Musings: Encouraging the next generation

David Zirnhelt says balancing business and lifestyle may help the next generation stay on the ranch

Mighty Pucks beat Leftovers in Quesnel high school floor hockey overtime thriller

The Benchwarmers and Nordiques also pick up wins in Week 3

Quesnel Bikers meet the friendliest Good Neighbours in Vietnam

Chris and Heather Hartridge have spent five weeks touring the country and met many wonderful people

Bidding is open for ArtsWells Mini Murals

Contributing artists include Lindsay Kay, Connor Kenney, Dan Bern and Carly Nabess

Forestry Ink: Forestry practices and mine reclamation in B.C.

Columnist Jim Hilton writes about the possibilities for using biochar to reclaim mine-affected land

WATCH NOW: Going back in time for Family Day at Barkerville

Family Day Weekend Celebrations featured town tours, presentations, demonstrations and exhibits

‘A long way to go’: UNBC hosts Moose Hide Campaign gathering on Feb. 24

The event is a part of a movement to stand up against violence inflicted on women and children

Still six cases of COVID-19 in B.C. despite reports of Air Canada passenger: ministry

Health ministry wouldn’t comment on specific flight routes

Violent ends to past Indigenous protests haunt Trudeau government

Trudeau adopted a more assertive tone Friday, insisting the barricade must come down

HIGHLIGHTS: Day one and two at the 2020 BC Winter Games

Athletes had sunny – but cold – weather to work with in Fort St. John

B.C. money laundering inquiry to begin amid hopes for answers, accountability

Eby argued that most B.C. residents already know the previous government, at best, turned a blind eye

Blockades remain in place as Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs returning to B.C.

Hereditary Chief Woos said they are ready to engage in nation-to-nation talks with the B.C.

Most Read