John Horgan’s decision to call a snap election during the COVID-19 pandemic appears to have paid off as Global News is projecting the BC NDP to form a majority government.
The NDP is elected or leading in 55 ridings, according to Global News projections, ahead of the BC Liberals who are elected or leading in 29 ridings. The Greens are elected or leading in three ridings.
Horgan called an election back on Sept. 21, saying the province needs a majority government to navigate the ongoing global crisis.
“This has been an extraordinarily difficult election for many, many reasons, but it’s one that I believe had to happen,” Horgan said Saturday night.
B.C. election 2020: NDP majority declared, Horgan remains premier
Horgan faced criticism from BC Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson and newly minted BC Green Leader Sonia Furstenau for sending voters to the polls amid the global pandemic and breaking the agreement he forged with the Greens in order to form government in 2017.
Speaking on Saturday night, Wilkinson did not address his future as party leader.
He said the NDP are poised to form a majority government, but mail-in ballots have yet to be counted.
“We don’t know what the final seat count will be,” he said.
“We have to wait for these results because everyone’s voice needs to be heard.”
Furstenau is projected to win re-election in Cowichan Valley while Adam Olsen, who served as the Green Party’s interim leader following Andrew Weaver’s departure from politics, is expected to win in the riding of Saanich North and the Islands.
The New Democrats picked up seats in ridings such as Boundary Similkameen and Surrey-Cloverdale.
They are also expected to pick up a seat in North Vancouver-Seymour, where Susie Chant defeated Jane Thornthwaite, the Liberal incumbent who faced controversy after commenting on the physical appearance of Bowinn Ma during an event attended by Wilkinson.
B.C. election 2020: Bowinn Ma addresses incident where she experienced sexist comments from Liberal candidate
Ma is projected to win in the riding of North Vancouver-Lonsdale.
The NDP is also expected to win in Oak Bay-Gordon Head, the riding once held by former Green leader Andrew Weaver since 2009.
On Friday, Elections BC estimated that only about 65 to 70 per cent of votes will be counted on election night, which could delay final results in close races.
Going to the polls in the time of COVID
About 478,900 vote-by-mail packages had been returned as of Friday morning, which represents about 66 per cent of all mail-in packages requested and issued to date, Elections BC said.
Advance votes will be counted on election day. Mail-in ballots will be counted 13 days after election day at the earliest as per provincial law.
There are nearly 3.5 million registered voters in B.C.
At dissolution back in September, the NDP and Liberals were tied with 41 seats in the legislature, while the Greens held two seats, another two were independent, and one seat was vacant.
The Oct. 24 vote came less than a week since provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry declared that B.C. is now in a second wave of the pandemic, with higher and higher numbers of daily new cases of COVID-19 in the last few days.
B.C. is the second province to head to the polls during the COVID-19 pandemic. New Brunswick re-elected the Progressive Conservatives last month after Premier Blaine Higgs called a snap election. Voters in Saskatchewan will go to the polls on Monday.
For the full election coverage, go to our B.C. Election 2020 page.
Global News’ special election broadcast will air live from 7 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. PT on Global BC, BC1, AM980 CKNW radio, and free on the Global TV App, Amazon Prime Video or Global News YouTube Channel.
— With files from Richard Zussman, Simon Little and The Canadian Press
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.