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COLUMN: Regardless of who leads, they’re all in the minority

Final election results should serve as a wake-up call for leaders of B.C.’s political parties

It must’ve been a massive morning-after of mixed emotions for party stalwarts.

The camp that has formed our current government for the past 16 years was on the ropes, their closest challenger far from a convincing victory and the also-rans tripling their seats, albeit in the lowest way possible.

Yet there they were, one day after our May 9 election, calculating just how many votes the big two would need in the final count (and, in a couple of specific cases, the recount) to earn the right – yes, right – to govern our province.

This past Wednesday, two weeks later, we learned what is effectively a non-answer: the BC Liberal Party won 43 seats, the BC NDP 41 and the BC Green Party 3.

It’s a non-answer because what this means for the future of B.C.’s governance is yet to be determined. Many are predicting a coalition government (some specifically counting on a NDP/Green coalition, though a Liberal/Green coalition seems at least as likely), and others a minority government destined for a non-confidence vote once the two parties in opposition gain the, ahem…, confidence.

Whatever our future holds, it seems hardly too soon for the parties themselves to assess – and reassess – their leadership and strategies leading up to this virtual stalemate.

And I suggest they look no further than what is considered the affluent south end of Surrey, where candidates were left fighting the good fight seemingly in a vacuum, without so much as an apparent sideways glance from their party brass. No key visits from leaders, no meaningful provincial focus on local issues and no obvious roster of volunteers from head-office making the rounds.

The reason for this is all too apparent. The right-wing party counted on a BC Liberal shoo-in, the left-wing party counted on a BC Liberal shoo-in, and all but the most independent-minded of their challengers basically wrote off the idea of having impact.

In fact, some of the Green candidates across B.C. and in Surrey’s nine ridings barely showed up, if at all, beyond the ballot. (At the risk of singling out our Green candidate in Surrey South, perhaps he asked himself if his South-of-the-Fraser voters really wanted to hear much from a candidate who lives several ridings over, on the North Shore.)

All of this is to suggest that all party leaders should show leadership and volunteer to be placed under the microscope. If they need a nudge from their backbenches and beyond, so be it.

If Christy Clark, John Horgan or Andrew Weaver think she or he have the trust of many beyond their party faithful, they’ve sadly miscalculated.

Consider the overall vote tallies – 796,672 BC Liberal, 795,106 NDP and 332,387 Green. In what is essentially a 2.2 party system (no, the Greens don’t get credit for running provincewide beyond simply offering a full slate of names), not one of the leading parties came close to attracting 50 per cent of the vote.

Simply put, regardless of the outcome, they’re all in the minority.

Let this election serve as a wake-up call for the party faithful.

Lance Peverley is the editor of Peace Arch News.