Bob D’Eith will be the next MLA of Maple Ridge-Mission as absentee ballots in the riding raised his total vote count over two-term Liberal Marc Dalton by more than 200 votes.
D’Eith went from a 120-vote lead on election night to a margin of 325 after all absentee ballots were counted and results officially confirmed Wednesday. There were 2,562 absentee ballots cast in the riding, and 2,456 (95.8 per cent) were counted.
The Liberals ended up with 940 of those votes, while the NDP added 1,145, which is a 46.6 per cent share of all absentee ballots.
D’Eith ended up with 41.94 per cent share of overall casted votes.
Hesitant to claim victory on May 9, D’Eith now says he’s looking forward to meeting other NDP caucus members and working on securing a campaign office.
“I’m ready to get to work, we’ve got a lot of work to do,” D’Eith said. “We’re rolling up the sleeves, but it’s difficult to have specific policies on specific issues until we know what the government looks like.”
More than two weeks after election day, absentee ballots favour a win for NDP candidate Ronna-Rae Leonard in Courtenay-Comox, giving the NDP 41 seats in the new 87-seat B.C. legislature. The B.C. Liberals’ 43 seats are one short of a majority.
As party representatives try to negotiate an agreement with Green Party leader Andrew Weaver to support one or the other major party in crucial votes, the focus shifts to B.C. Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon. Her largely ceremonial role becomes pivotal as she must invite either Clark or NDP leader John Horgan to form a new government.
D’Eith said work will begin immediately on the highly-contentious and polarizing homeless shelter and affordable housing issues. He was handcuffed on doing much because of the recount and the tight finish between he and Marc Dalton.
He’ll know more about specific policies when he and Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows MLA Lisa Beare meet with the City of Maple Ridge, but is confident a solution will be found quickly.
“Obviously it needs to be dealt with in an expedited manner and there’s going to be some work done right away on it,” he said. “Lisa and I plan to meet with the city as soon as possible to get a lay of the land and figure out what we can do.”
He plans to take into account the the recommendations of the Liberal-appointed citizen’s committee as he has an obligation to do so.
D’Eith thanked Dalton for his service to the two communities after eight years, saying he appreciated his work in the riding and lauded how long he was able to remain MLA.
Dalton was gracious in accepting his defeat after holding on to hope for more than two weeks as the decision hung in the balance.
He said he’s gotten a lot done for his constituents over the last eight years, whether it be from getting a new school opened in Albion or on the shelter issue.
“I’m not surprised, I knew I had a strong base, but I also knew it was very tight,” Dalton said. “I did feel I was just a hair behind and that’s what it transpired to.”
Although the Liberals will get first crack at forming government, Dalton admits he is personally concerned about the possible well-being of B.C.’s economy if the NDP and Green Party were to form a coalition government.
He also personally didn’t feel anger from people when he door-knocked during the campaign, and thinks people are doing well in Maple Ridge and Mission.
“I didn’t feel a lot of push back,” he said. “I think the promises of the opposition attracted enough people to make that difference in a swing riding.”
The B.C. Liberals won the most seats and Guichon would need a clear reason to call for a change, such as the defeat of the government in a vote on its pre-election budget.