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Election 2021 results: NDP hold their ground in B.C., still hope to gain seats

All of the NDP’s 11 incumbents in British Columbia retained their seats Monday, and they had gained at least one at press deadline.
NDP leader Jagmeet Singh and local candidate Jim Hanson door knock to get out the vote in Burnaby, B.C. Monday, September 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

All of the NDP’s 11 incumbents in British Columbia retained their seats Monday, and they had gained at least one at press deadline.

The race in Port Moody-Coquitlam remained a nail-biter until NDP challenger Bonita Zarillo was declared the winner over incumbent Liberal Nelly Shin. In 2019, Shin won the riding with just over 150 more votes than Zarillo.

The NDP could still gain another seat in Nanaimo-Ladysmith, as it was too close to call as the deadline approached.

Green incumbent Paul Manly will lose his seat to either NDP challenger Lisa Marie Barron or Conservative candidate Tamara Kronis. The two challengers traded leads throughout Monday night but the final outcome may not be decided for several days, because more than 7,000 mail in votes have yet to be counted.

In Vancouver-Granville, the seat remained up for grabs as NDP candidate, Anjali Appadurai, continued to nip at the heels of Liberal challenger, Taleeb Noormohamed, throughout the evening. Noormohamed leads by 230 votes but there are 5776 mail-in ballots that could change the outcome.

Noormohamed was considered the favourite, but he may have lost some support when it was revealed he flipped 42 properties over the past five years. The NDP’s campaign may have been bolstered by Jody Wilson-Raybould, who did not run this time. During the campaign, Wilson-Raybould released excerpts from her book, Indian in the Cabinet, which took aim at Justin Trudeau. She also tweeted how disappointed she was at being unable to meet Singh in person when he was canvassing in her riding.

The NDP made no secret of the fact it was pinning its hopes on the charisma and personal popularity of its leader, Jagmeet Singh, to help it hang on to its 11 seats in British Columbia, and win more ridings that were tight, three-way races.

University of Victoria political science professor Michael Prince said, “Indeed, Singh continued to be rated the most popular and likeable of all the leaders throughout the campaign. He just couldn’t translate that into seats.”

The NDP focused much of its campaign on British Columbia, with its leader making half a dozen appearances in Metro Vancouver ridings, where it held four seats and on Vancouver Island, where it won five of seven seats in 2019.

On Monday night, NDP candidates, including Singh retained their four seats in Burnaby South, New Westminster-Burnaby, Vancouver Kingsway, Vancouver East as well as their previously held five seats on Vancouver Island that include Victoria, Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke, Courtenay-Alberni, Cowichan-Malahat and North Island-Powell River.

The federal NDP may have benefited by support from the provincial party. Hundreds of provincial NDP volunteers offered their time to federal candidates. Premier John Horgan kept a low profile for much of the campaign, but tweeted his support for the party on Saturday, as did provincial cabinet ministers Adrian Dix and Sheila Malcolmson, who left her job as the NDP MP for Nanaimo, to run provincially.

“One of the things that has changed in B.C. is that Premier John Horgan got seats where the NDP never had and I think that is the kind of rising tide that may lift all boats,” said UBC political science professor Gerald Baier.

That bump may have been flattened somewhat by Justin Trudeau’s message in the final days of the campaign.

“I’ve never heard Justin Trudeau use the term ‘progressives’ as much as he did in the last week of the election,” said Prince.

“Appealing to progressive voters, to stop the Conservatives from winning may have lost the NDP some votes,” he said.

Singh did not target B.C’s north and interior, where the NDP held just two seats going into this election. He participated in Zoom-style meet and greets but did not appear in person for his incumbents. Despite Singh’s lack of personal attention to the ridings, NDP incumbents, Taylor Bacharach won in Skeena-Bulkley Valley and Richard Cannings held his seat in Okanagan-West Kootenay.

Despite the NDP not gaining much more in B.C. during this election, Prince said Singh got what he wanted.

“Although the NDP did not gain a lot more in B.C., it remains the power broker in Ottawa,” said Prince. “It’s likely Singh will be able to press Trudeau’s minority government to get going on Pharmacare and maybe even taxing the rich.”