The NDP tightened its political grip on Vancouver Island as the party was elected in 10 of 14 ridings in Tuesdays provincial election.
Liberal cabinet ministers Ida Chong and Murray Coell squeaked out extremely narrow victories over in Oak Bay-Gordon Head and Saanich North and the Islands.
Chong, minister of Small Business, Technology and Economic Development, defeated NDP challenger Jessica Van der Veen by a mere 530 votes, preliminary results show.
It was a squeeker, Chong said Wednesday. I wasn't surprised that it would be close and a tight race.
Green candidate Steven Johns pulled in 2,152 votes, in what the NDP said was a vote-splitting effort that ultimately hurt their chances for victory.
In Saanich North and the Isalnds, former CRD director Gary Holman led Coell for much of election night, putting a scare into the Advanced Education and Labour Market minister. Ultimately, Coell won by 395 votes.
Although the margins were close in both ridings, they did not qualify for automatic judicial recount under election laws. Candidates must be seperated by 0.2 per cent of the vote for an automatic recount - which in Chongs riding meant 48 votes and in Coells riding 55 votes.
Liberal Agriculture Minister Ron Cantelon recaptured his Parksville-Qualicum seat. And Liberal Don McRae, a Courtenay city councillor, took Stan Hagens old seat in Comox Valley.
Thats as far as the Liberals got in the traditional NDP stronghold of Vancouver Island.
The NDPs Lana Popham, an eco-friendly vineyard owner, declared victory over Liberal Robin Adair in Saanich South, one of the Islands most exciting political matchups.
You dont want to admit that you won until you see those numbers up there but now that I see it, its fantastic, Popham said Tuesday.
The NDP also picked up the riding of Cowichan Valley, where there was no incumbent MLA. Union activist Bill Routley defeated Cathy Basskin of the Liberals and Simon Lindley of the Greens.
At Green party headquarters in Victoria, a groan went up as leader Jane Sterk finished a distant third in Esquimalt-Royal Roads, where the party had hoped to pick up its first legislative seat.
NDP incumbent Maurine Karagianis easily defeated Sterk and Liberal Carl Ratsoy, a high-school physics teacher.
Im known as being pretty feisty in the legislature and my community likes that, Karagianis said.
Boisterous NDP incumbent John Horgan fended off former Colwood mayor and Liberal candidate Jody Twa in Juan de Fuca. The people spoke loud and clear and the people are strongly New Democrat, Horgan said.
In Nanaimo-North Cowichan, where forestry, ferry fares and seniors-care issues featured predominantly, NDP incumbent Doug Routley was declared victorious over Ladysmith mayor and Liberal candidate Rob Hutchins.
Routleys victory came despite public details of his messy divorce surfacing during the election. Hutchins has now failed twice provincially but said he has no regrets about running.
The NDPs Claire Trevena was re-elected in North Island, a key swing riding both parties had hoped to capture. Trevena defeated Marion Wright, a former Kwakiutl Band chief councillor and small-business owner whom the Liberals had expected to be a strong contender.
As expected, the NDP dominated Victoria-Beacon Hill and Victoria-Swan Lake, sending NDP Leader Carole James and NDP incumbent Rob Fleming back to the legislature.
The NDPs Scott Fraser was re-elected in Alberni-Pacific Rim, defeating former Ucluelet mayor and Liberal candidate Dianne St. Jacques. Were ready to roll up our sleeves for social justice, equality, democracy its fundamental, he said.
Outspoken NDP incumbent Leonard Krog, who championed the partys attack against the Liberals on the B.C. Rail scandal, held off Liberal candidate and former Nanaimo councillor Jeet Manhas.
In the last legislature, the NDP held nine of 13 Island seats. The Island gained a 14th seat during boundary adjustments.
The NDPs Island dominance came after the party expended considerable energy here during the campaign.
Liberal leader Gordon Campbell spent mere hours on the Island and made no major promises for the region, leading to suggestions his party ignored the Island in favour of the vote-rich Lower Mainland.
Campbells cursory attention played into the NDP strategy of stoking resentment among Islanders who felt ignored by a Liberal government a tune the party played from writ drop to election day.
The NDP, meanwhile, made a number of high-profile Island promises, such as saving Cowichan Lodge seniors home, acquiring 12,000 hectares of Jordan River forest land and upgrading commuter rail in Greater Victorias West Shore.
with files from Times Colonist staff
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