Published: Wed, May 10, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

B.C. voters head to the polls

Going into the vote, the Liberals were neck-and-neck in the polls with the opposition NDP, whose campaign promise to make life more affordable in a province that is home to Canada's most expensive real estate appeared to have resonated with voters. In Chilliwack, Highroad Academy, for example, picked BC Liberal John Martin with 57.5 per cent of the votes, while inner city Central elementary picked the NDP's Tracey O'Hara with 43.2 per cent followed by 38.6 per cent for the Green's Wayne Froese.

"She is a brilliant campaigner", Bennett said. "We also know a lot of the residents within our riding are flying off to diverse locations for work and the instability that brings to families", said Shaw.

The closest B.C. election in 65 years had the Liberals and NDP deadlocked with 42 seats each at one point - two short of the 44 needed to form a majority in the expanded 87-seat legislature.

Green Party Leader Andrew called the outcome "historic", noting B.C. had elected North America's first Green caucus above the municipal level.

"With absentee ballots still to be counted, I am confident they will strengthen our margin of victory".

The NDP won one riding by only nine votes, making a recount a certainty that will determine the difference between a minority and an ultra-thin majority if it were to flip to the Liberals.

The BC Liberals landed a star candidate in Ellis Ross, former chief of the Haisla First Nations and a prominent aboriginal leader, who is known for his support of industries such as LNG.

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Party leaders say they're feeling optimistic about their chances.

Horgan won his seat in Langford-Juan de Fuca, while Christy Clark won in Kelowna West. Weaver has said his preconditions for Green support of a minority government include an end to corporate and union political donations, and a referendum on changing to a proportional representation voting system.

Horgan said the NDP would balance the budget by raising taxes on the top two per cent of earners and by using a $500-million "LNG prosperity fund" that Clark created out of general revenue.

Horgan was in Metro Vancouver helping people reach the polls, and Weaver voted in his riding of Oak Bay-Gordon Head early in the morning before hitting the streets to talk to voters. Ben Stewart won the 2013 election, but he stepped aside so the premier could run, after losing her own riding. The Liberals shot back by highlighting donations the New Democrats received from the United Steelworkers.

A return of the BC Liberals tonight under Clark would largely maintain course, amid some promises to reduce MSP premiums and cap tolls on the Port Mann and Golden Ears bridges.

Clark was first elected to the legislature in 1996 and became deputy premier and education minister after the Liberals' landslide victory in 2001.

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