Apocalypse averted, election next

Christmas came early for Shirley Bond and Mike Morris on Thursday. Their hallelujahs could be heard from on high.

And the next time Bond sees B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver in the legislature, she'll be sorely tempted to imitate the woman in the GoDaddy commercial from a few years ago: "hey, Andrew... STICK IT!!!"

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In fact, about 71 per cent of area residents would probably pay good money to see that happen.

That's roughly how many voters in both Morris's Prince George-Mackenzie electoral district and Bond's Prince George-Valemount rejected proportional representation in the provincial referendum.

Provincially, 61.3 per cent of voters who mailed in their ballots chose the current first past the post system over PR. That's a crushing defeat of the "let's not vote again on this EVER" variety. For the third time in 15 years, B.C. voters have rejected electoral reform.Just 16 electoral districts chose PR, with nearly three-quarters of the people in Vancouver Mount Pleasant preferring that option, the stronghold for PR in the province. The other 70 districts took FPTP, with the folks in Peace River North rejecting PR by a whopping 86.4 per cent, the highest in B.C.

Besides Bond and Morris, this is a big win for the B.C. Liberals and leader Andrew Wilkinson. Just one Liberal electoral district chose PR - Vancouver-False Creek - and just barely at 51.3 per cent.

The prospect of a minimum of two future provincial elections where the Greens could hold a dozen or more seats in the legislature is gone. Even more significantly, voters in Nanaimo favoured FPTP by 54.1 per cent. That matters because voters there will choose a new MLA in a spring byelection, with the NDP, the Liberals and the Greens all fielding strong candidates in this traditionally NDP stronghold. Whoever carries the district will likely win with less than 40 per cent of the vote.

Oh, the irony.

In Wilkinson's riding of Vancouver-Quilchena, PR was handily thumped, with 70.3 per cent choosing FPTP. Meanwhile, in John Horgan's district of Langford-Juan de Fuca, just 50.9 per cent of voters supported PR, with just 53.5 per cent backing PR in Weaver's Oak Bay-Gordon Head district.

This result is a flat-out disaster for Weaver and the Greens. Even with the deck stacked completely in their favour by hinging the outcome on the overall provincial total, regardless of how the vote went by district, giving Greater Vancouver a huge sway over the rest of B.C., PR proponents successfully snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

A major Green platform was soundly rejected right across the province, taking the possibility of the Greens evolving into a serious third party alternative with it.

Lastly, any power Weaver had over Horgan and the NDP government has all but evaporated. If Weaver doesn't support Horgan during all upcoming confidence vote in the legislature, that would almost certainly spark an immediate provincial election and the very real prospect of political oblivion for the Greens.

Worst of all for Weaver, Horgan is free to blow up their deal whenever is convenient for him.

Like, maybe this coming spring?

From Horgan's perspective, that might be the last best chance to go to the voters looking for a majority government. Since becoming premier, Horgan has captained a virtually scandal-free ship, a shocking departure from past NDP governments. The sky hasn't fallen, the provincial economy remains strong, Site C and LNG are happening. The only place for Horgan's standing among voters to go in the eyes of voters is down.

That Nanaimo byelection, a new leader in Wilkinson who has yet to catch on with voters and the nonsense around Speaker Darryl Plecas just further plays into Horgan's hand. And for any disenchanted NDP voters on Vancouver Island even considering supporting the Greens again, he just has to remind them what 16 years of Liberal rule looked like under Gordon Campbell and Christy Clark.

It's still a risk, however, for Horgan.

The NDP took six out of the nine seats in Surrey in the 2017 election but not one Surrey district came even close to supporting PR. If Horgan can't hold on to those Surrey districts he worked so hard to gain in the last election, Wilkinson will be the next premier and card-carrying NDP members will want Horgan's head on a platter.

Still, the odds are never perfect in both politics and poker.

The PR campaign is over.

Go enjoy Christmas because the next provincial election campaign is about to start.

-- Editor-in-chief Neil Godbout

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