It will take at least until next week before British Columbians know which party or parties will govern the province, but Michelle Mungall knows she is returning to Victoria for another term.
The NDP incumbent easily won what many expected to be a three-way race. She finished more than 2,000 votes ahead of Creston’s Tanya Wall, whose late surge in Tuesday night’s vote counting edged out the Green Party’s Kim Charlesworth.
The final counts were: Mungall, 7,159 (41.85 per cent); Wall, 4,891 (28.59 per cent); and Charlesworth, 4,770 (27.88 per cent). Two independent candidates earned a combined 286 votes for 1.67 per cent of the total.
“It has been such an honour,” Mungall told the Nelson Star at her campaign gathering on Tuesday night, “just to see the team grow and grow and grow over the past five weeks. It has been very humbling, and today I spent the day campaigning here in Nelson and watching the steady stream of volunteers. Some people spent the entire day getting people out to vote, calling them, reminding them.”
With all votes cast on election day counted, there was still no clarity about how the province will be governed. Christy Clark’s Liberals holds a 43-41 edge in seats over the NDP, and she has announced her intention to form the government, but with three seats, the Green Party under leader Andrew Weaver holds the balance of power. Complicating the situation is the close counts in some ridings, especially Courtenay-Comox, where the NDP has a nine-vote edge over the Liberals. Recounts will be done in Courtney-Comox and Vancouver-False Creek Pending the count of mail-in ballots on May 22, other ridings could also end up with recounts.
Mungall said she doesn’t think a new minority government will last long.
“Unless we can all come together and work things out, which is not necessarily the way things work out in our system, I think we are going to be heading to the polls pretty quickly again.”
Asked if she thinks the NDP can work with the Green Party, she said, “We are going to try, we are going to do our darndest, and we agree on more than we disagree, and I hope we can put personalities aside and focus on the building a better B.C.”
For her part, disappointment didn’t obscure what Tanya Wall described as “a great experience” in her first political campaign at the provincial level, where parties can be even more important than the individual candidates.
On Tuesday evening, with her BC Liberals locked in a tight battle provincially, Nelson-Creston’s Tanya Wall said she had no regrets in taking on incumbent Michelle Mungall in the 2017 election.
Wall was sitting in third place at the time, with fewer than half of the polls reporting. Media outlets had already declared Mungall a winner, and while she wasn’t quite ready to admit defeat, she expressed appreciation for the support she had in the Creston Valley.
“I have no regrets at all, and if I had to do it all over again, I would without any hesitation,” she said. “I’ve learned so much in talking not only to supporters, but to people from all political sides.”
Her previous experience as a Creston town councillor and regional director didn’t prepare her for the animosity that party politics brings out in people, she said.
“I was surprised at how vicious and partisan some people can be, when a genuine conversation would be more helpful,” she said. “But overall, this election campaign has been a very positive experience.”
In thanking her campaign manager, Creston Mayor Ron Toyota, her partner, Ralph Casemore, and her team of volunteers, she gestured toward her teenage son, Jeramie.
“And thank you to Jeramie—it’s our kids that we really do this for.”
Wall said that she looked forward to returning to her RDCK directorial duties, and working with a Liberal government.
“I know that my campaign has opened a lot of doors for the Creston Valley with the provincial government, and we have a track record as local politicians of working together to make things happen.”
(With files from Black Press writers Bill Metcalfe, Tyler Harper and Will Johnson.)