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Green incumbents Sonia Furstenau, Adam Olsen declared elected

Election night results suggest Greens lose Oak Bay but pick up West Vancouver-Sea-to-Sky
Sonia Furstenau
Green Party Leader Sonia Furstenau

It will be weeks before it's official, but polling results on election night suggested the Green Party has elected two incumbents, including party leader Sonia Furstenau, and could end up losing one riding, only to pick up another, for a total of three.

Furstenau, incumbent for Cowichan Valley, and Adam Olsen, Green incumbent for Saanich North and the Islands, were declared winners of their ridings, while the Oak Bay-Gordon Head riding held by former Green Leader Andrew Weaver, was declared to have switched from Green to orange.

Results from Saturday night suggested the Greens may have broken through in the Lower Mainland, in West Vancouver-Sea-to-Sky, with the possible election of Green candidate Jeremy Valeriote.

Because there are roughly half a million mail-in votes to count, it means that it will be at least three weeks before the results of the election are final, and some ridings are too close to declare a winner.

IMPORTANT NOTE / NOTE TO READERS about mail-in ballots: Due to the anticipated number of mail-in ballots, the election night vote count will not be complete. The Canadian Press will continue to publish updated riding results to the map and banners as available until counting is complete

Unless mail-in votes change the numbers dramatically, the Greens lost one seat -- Oak Bay-Gordon Head -- only to pick up another: West Vancouver-Sea-to-Sky.

Furstenau said Saturday night that NDP Leader John Horgan called a snap election with the aim of wiping out his opponents. 

"They were half successful," she said, referring to the major loss the Liberals appear to have suffered in an orange wave. "What these results are showing is that British Columbians are not willing to give the government a pass on things like climate change or old-growth protection, and the holes in the COVID recovering plan.

"There are still many votes be counted, but we are seeing incredible successes where we haven't before."

Unless mail-in ballots change the outcome, the Greens have managed to have retained three seats in the BC Legislature. The new face there would be Jeremy Valeriote, who had a strong lead Saturday night for the Greens in West Vancouver-Sea-to-Sky.

Richard Johnston, political scientist at the University of British Columbia, said he suspects that the Greens benefited at the expense of the Liberals. Bill Tieleman, a longtime B.C. political strategist and former communications director for the Glen Clark NDP government, agreed.

"I think what we've seen tonight in this election is that the Liberal supporters in that area decided to register a protest vote against the Liberals by going Green," Tieleman said.

"The Greens have got off the Island, which is a major accomplishment on their part."

After he was declared re-elected Saturday night, Olsen told Global News that his party has gained a lot of experience in the BC Legislature and would be holding the John Horgan government to account.

"We learned how to be an effective opposition, raising issues around old growth," he said. "We have an old growth review panel because of the Greens work on old growth.

"I think we've already demonstrated that we know how to be able to use the tools available to an opposition party, and we're going to use those tools, and we're going to hold Mr. Horgan's government accountable for the decisions they make.

"For the last three and a half years it's been easy to blame the Greens for all the difficulties and take all credit for everything. Now this is on him and his government."

As polling results trickled in Saturday night, the numbers were significant enough for the election desk at major broadcasters to predict a majority government for the NDP.

But it will be several weeks before its clear who won some of the closer ridings.

Furstenau, a former school teacher, won Cowichan Valley in 2017 by fewer than 2,000 votes. She won 37.5% of the vote in 2017 to the NDP’s 31.4% and the Liberals 27.4%.

Results from polling stations Saturday night showed a wider margin for Furstenau and she was declared by broadcasters as winner of the Cowichan Valley riding.

The Greens faced huge challenges in this election, not the least of which was the fact that they lost the leader who put them on the map. Andrew Weaver, a climate change scientist who became the first Green party member elected to the BC Legislature in 2013.

Weaver stepped down as leader in November 2019, quit the Green caucus and announced he would not seek re-election. Furstenau was elected in 2017 in Cowichan Valley. She had been the party’s new leader for only a few  weeks when the snap election was called.