The BC NDP stranglehold on the Nanaimo-North Cowichan riding continued on election night, with Doug Routley earning his fifth term as MLA over challengers Chris Istace of the BC Green Party and Don (Duck) Paterson of the BC Liberals.
The NDP will be forming a majority government in the legislature under Premier John Horgan. The top priority for the NDP is working to strengthen the economy to recover from the impacts of COVID-19.
“We feel very grateful — all of us,” said Routley. “Now we feel like the job has just begun. The hard work starts with rebuilding from this pandemic and getting people through it.”
Routley tallied 7,856 votes or 47.22 per cent from the 94 polls followed by Istace at 5,228 votes or 31.42 per cent and Paterson with 3,554 votes or 21.36 per cent. The total valid number of votes cast was 16,638.
There are still 9,956 mail-in ballots to be counted in the riding. Nanaimo-North Cowichan has a total of 40,266 registered voters.
Aside from COVID, Routley said he is looking to tackle housing issues in Nanaimo-North Cowichan, and expand access to child care spaces.
“I want to fulfill our promise to enshrine child care the way health care is enshrined.”
Routley also wants to see a ‘more sustainable’ economy on Vancouver Island, which includes improvements to the forest industry, and partnerships with First Nations.
When asked what to expect from the new NDP majority government, Routley said British Columbians can expect ‘more of the same’.
“We’re going to have to double down on the investments we’re making in child care, education, post-secondary training, and retraining people. We know that if we focus on job creation, and we focus through the lens of climate change and reconciliation, there are a lot of opportunities.”
Routley said the NDP will use the challenges presented by COVID-19 to respond to ‘inequities’ across the province.
“Wherever people are vulnerable, those are areas we need to address.”
Istace was pleased with his showing as a first-time candidate as part of a Green Party showing a resurgence in the province, with Sonia Furstenau taking over as leader. She had very little time to prepare herself and enlist candidates after Horgan called the election.
It all bodes well for the future and Chemainus businessman Istace is enthused with the response he received during campaigning and at the polls.
“What a ride that election was,” he confided. “I am so proud of the work that my campaign team did with me on this fast-paced journey. With a snap election scrambling to get nominated by the party, get signatures for my Elections BC application and then pull this all together in only four weeks was astounding. We put together a huge effort and our results show the largest turnout for BC Green voters in this riding history and currently sitting in second place.
“We challenged a 15-year incumbent candidate with the NDP and I am pleased with the results. I have high hopes on the mail-in ballots yet as there are 9,900 of them out there. Kudos to my fellow candidates who ran good election campaigns and congratulations to the results so far to Doug Routley. I am also extremely happy with both Sonia Furstenau and Adam Olsen’s commanding wins in their ridings as well as Jeremy Valeriote winning on the mainland.”
Paterson extended his congratulations to his opponents.
“I respect both of them very much for letting their names stand, and I congratulate Doug for another go-round at it.”
Paterson said that he wants to see a plan from the NDP to strengthen the economy, and a plan for the province to overcome deficits imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Istace had designs on running for MLA in Estevan, Saskatchewan prior to moving to Chemainus. This result has him encouraged about what the prospects might be like in four years.
“Yes, we are already planning on getting to work to make things happen for the next election with a different result,” he indicated.
Routley first represented the Cowichan-Ladysmith riding from 2005-2009 before the name and boundaries changed.
Prior to his tenure, Graham Bruce of Crofton was the MLA under the Liberal banner from 2001-2005, the only time the riding hasn’t been under NDP jurisdiction since 1991. Jan Pullinger of the NDP was the Cowichan-Ladysmith MLA for two five-year terms from 1991-1996 and 1996-2001.