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NDP wins not predictive of B.C. election: expert

By Eric MacKenzie

B.C. NDP candidate Melanie Mark won Tuesday’s byelection in the Vancouver-Mount Pleasant riding. 

B.C. NDP candidate Melanie Mark won Tuesday’s byelection in the Vancouver-Mount Pleasant riding. FILE PHOTO

The B.C. NDP were the big winners of Tuesday’s provincial byelections, taking both seats up.

Melanie Mark carried 61% of the vote in the Vancouver-Mount Pleasant riding, a predictable result considering the seat previously belonged to the NDP’s Jenny Kwan.

But the Coquitlam-Burke Mountain district wound up changing hands, with NDP candidate Jodie Wickens capturing 46% of ballots cast to beat out Liberal hopeful Joan Isaacs (38%). That riding had belonged to the Liberals since it was first contested in 2009.

“I think everyone pretty much thought the NDP was going to win in Jenny Kwan’s old riding,” said Simon Fraser University political science professor Marjorie Griffin Cohen. “The other was a bit more of a surprise, but it was very close, of course.”

Although the NDP increased its presence in Victoria with the two victories, Cohen cautioned against extrapolating the results to predict how British Columbians may lean in next year’s province-wide vote.

“Byelections aren’t usually an indication of what’s going to happen in the next election,” she said. “It was very close (in Coquitlam-Burke Mountain) ... and there was a very low turnout. Usually in the regular election, there’s a higher voter turnout, so that could make a difference there.

“So it indicates something and I’m sure it gives the NDP encouragement for the run-up to the election, but I don’t think one can read too much into it.”

The B.C. Green Party is also encouraged by the results, particularly after a second-place finish in Vancouver-Mount Pleasant, where Green candidate Pete Fry collected more than 26% of the vote.

“(Tuesday’s) historic B.C. Green Party results demonstrate that voters are recognizing there is a better choice,” read a party statement. “Over the next 16 months, the B.C. Green party will articulate a full plan that balances the needs of B.C. families, a sustainable economy and a healthy environment.”

Although Victoria-Beacon Hill MLA and former NDP leader Carole James is of Métis heritage, Mark became the first female First Nations MLA elected to the B.C. legislature.