Provincial Election Results Speak to a Universal Displeasure

By: Justin P. Goodrich, LL. M.

For those of us in British Columbia who are politically inclined, the May 9th provincial election results – which, at the time of this column, still remain somewhat uncertain pending absentee ballots in at least one riding where the results could change – have left a great many of us, regardless of political stripe, feeling unsettled.

As someone who has never been shy about his political leanings (I am a federal conservative and a provincial liberal), I will be the first to admit that the results were, for me, bittersweet.  Though it is very likely the BC Liberals will hold on to their minority government and perhaps even form a majority government, the reality is we do not have a clear mandate.  Having said that, even if by chance the outcome changes once the absentee ballots are counted, the reality is the NDP would not have a clear mandate either.  The bottom line – there are only two things we can infer with certainty from the results:  First, British Columbian’s do not feel particularly confident in either option.  Second, British Columbian’s want change.

Of course, as the party leaders took to their respective podiums on election night they each had their own reality to share.  BC Liberal leader Christy Clark spoke about the popular vote.  BC NDP leader John Horgan spoke about more seats in the legislature.  Dr. Andrew Weaver spoke about the increase his party experienced having gone from one to three seats.  In short, each party spoke of a ‘victory’ through their own lens.  However, I would argue that the result for most British Columbians left them feeling somewhat numb.  Not say I’m not glad the BC Liberals held on to power, of course I am; but the results have demonstrated a universal displeasure within BC political discourse that is seemingly more about “the lesser of two evils” and “change for the sake of change” instead of a vision for the future filled with optimism and excitement.  Except, perhaps, for those who identify with the BC Green’s who were thrilled with their results and now see themselves as a viable alternative – if only as the Official Opposition – in the next election!

For The Record…

When reflecting on any event or situation in my own life I always ask myself “what have I learned”.  Be it personally, professionally or otherwise, I ask myself this question to ensure I have not missed an important lesson, and to further ensure that moving forward I am being as thoughtful as I possibly can be.  So, what have we – the BC Liberals – learned from these results?

Though his is just one voice among BC Liberal MLA’s, here I will turn to the remarks made by Dr. Darryl Plecas (Abbotsford-South) on election night who, in his usual fashion, spoke from a place of thoughtfulness and integrity when we said “our party should take a lesson from this… I think we have to speak to a broader group of people.  It comes across sometimes that we are a very arrogant collection of people.  That’s not the case, but it sometimes seems like that.  I hope this makes us more humble and more respectful of the constituents overall, and especially people who are in need.”

Now I imagine there may be a few folks within the BC Liberal party who didn’t appreciate Darryl’s candid comments, but that’s one of the reasons I have always respected him.  Darryl is a straight shooter who, along with evidence based decision-making (vs. partisan decision-making) and a genuine heart for people, I feel embodies the very best of what an elected official should be.  All that to say, I believe he is right… if there is one overwhelming lesson we can learn it is that humility – and by extension, taking ownership of our shortcomings – will be the only way to rebuild the confidence of British Columbians so they can once again elect a BC Liberal government with a healthy majority.

Finally, by way of a closing thought – and speaking to an earlier theme – I for one would also like us to revisit proportional representation.  With close to 17% of British Columbian’s voting for the BC Greens, revisiting proportion representation – though it may complicate things by almost always resulting in a minority government – would at least ensure that more people can feel as though their voices are being heard; instead of them staying home on election day because they feel as though theirs might be a wasted vote.  We are diverse province and our electoral system needs to better reflect that!

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