Nanaimo voters have chosen their former MP to be their next MLA.
B.C. NDP candidate Sheila Malcolmson earned 49 per cent of the vote with all ballot boxes now counted.
“We are going to generate positive results for people right here at home,” she said in her acceptance speech Wednesday at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre. “So there is work to do and most especially, as New Democrats do like nobody else does, we are going to make sure that prosperity is shared. We have the strongest jobs record, we have the strongest economy in the country right now, but we need to make sure that is shared by everyone. That’s our prime directive.”
With 111 of 111 ballot boxes counted, Malcolmson has 10,538 votes (49.2 per cent) and Tony Harris of the B.C. Liberals has 8,665 votes (40.5 per cent). Michele Ney of the B.C. Green Party has 1,579 votes (7.4), Justin Greenwood of the B.C. Conservatives has 442 (2.1), Robin Richardson of the Vancouver Island Party has 100 (0.5) and Bill Walker of the B.C. Libertarians has 86 (0.4).
Tony Harris, B.C. Liberals candidate, said in his concession speech that he tried to talk about “visionary ideas” with voters, “the ideas we need to look forward to so that we can diversify our economy and create more good paying jobs, so that we can increase the median income here and improve affordability, while also challenging local government to cut red tape and build more housing so that we can solve the affordability crisis that is challenging for so many young people.”
Ney said she’s obviously disappointed by the results and said she was “a bit angry” about the “fear that was embedded into the grassroots” that she experienced when door-knocking.
“I believe that the Greens put on an incredible effort campaigning … the numbers do not reflect the hard work, the commitment, the inspiration that myself and my team shared with the constituents in our community, however the results that we are seeing here tonight clearly reflect that our constituents did not want the government to tumble, that they truly wanted stability,” she said.
B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver said he could not find fault with his candidate’s campaign.
“I can say that one of things that I will be doing is bringing in a private member’s bill with respect to polls being published during the writ period,” Weaver said, referencing a Mainstreet Research poll released Sunday that showed the B.C. Liberals with a 12.5-point lead.
“That poll was so out of whack, I mean so outrageous that the fact that it was published, we know that that affected some of our vote, which had a cost implication for us because you get 50 per cent of your funds back if you get 10 per cent. We lost people who were scared.”
At stake in the Nanaimo byelection was the balance in the legislature – the governing NDP maintains a slim minority with the confidence of the B.C. Green Party, but one more Liberal seat would have drawn that party even.
Malcolmson was at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre; Harris was at the Nanaimo Golf Club and B.C. Green Party candidate Michele Ney was at her campaign office on Bowen Road.
B.C. Liberal MLA Shirley Bond, at Harris’s headquarters earlier in the night, said “we’re under no illusions” about how the vote will go.
“This has typically been an NDP stronghold and I think what is encouraging is the fact that Tony had great name recognition; people loved his authenticity…” Bond said. “All he wanted to talk about was his vision for Nanaimo, so I think people really appreciated that and we heard that on the doorstep.”