British Columbia Premier and Liberal leader Christy Clark celebrates with supporters following her victory in the provincial election in Vancouver, British Columbia May 14, 2013.
Credits: REUTERS/ANDY CLARK
VANCOUVER - Christy Clark told anyone who would listen the BC Liberals would win, except few believed her. The BC premier made believers out of everyone Tuesday night with an election victory that was shocking in its scope.
The BC Liberals overcame a polling deficit as high as 20 points before the start of the province's 40th general election to not only capture a majority, but the incumbent party was elected in 50 ridings.
"I think people are going to re-examine the truthfulness of polls," a grinning Clark said after her victory speech. "If there's any lesson it's that pollsters and pundits and commentators do not choose the government. It is the people of British Columbia that choose the government."
But this being BC politics, something else unusual was taking place - Clark lost by several hundred votes to the BC NDP's David Eby in her home riding of Vancouver-Point Grey.
The BC NDP finished in second place with 33 ridings, while the Green Party of BC finally broke through with a victory by Andrew Weaver in the Victoria riding of Oak Bay-Gordon Head. Independent candidate Vicki Huntington easily retained her seat in Delta-South, while the BC Conservatives were shut out, including leader John Cummins losing in Langley.
Even before the campaign began, Clark pointed to Alberta's ruling Progressive Conservatives overcoming similar poll numbers in 2012 to defeat the Wildrose Party. The BC Liberals ran an aggressive election campaign with negative ads attacking the BC NDP platform's spending promises and the credibility of leader Adrian Dix, even sticking his head on a spinning weather vane.
By contrast, the BC NDP stayed positive until the final days of the campaign, but saw its lead steadily shrink as Clark repeatedly put Dix on the defensive.
After a short concession speech in Vancouver, Dix told the media he didn't know yet if he would step down as leader. He planned to discuss his future with the NDP caucus.
"I believed and still believe running a positive campaign is the right approach," he said. "We will regroup as a party and continue to keep government accountable."