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“I’m not surprised that they got the incumbent COVID-19 bump,” said Prof. Kim Speers, a Canadian politics expert at the University of Victoria. “People are tending to vote for the incumbent government if they have done well handling the pandemic.”
She said the election result appears to forecast brighter days ahead for the Green party despite winning just three seats, but a period of turmoil and introspection for the Liberals, who lost more than a dozen seats.
“They have four years to figure out who they are, who they want to be,” said Speers, who expects Wilkinson to resign or face pressure to quit.
Prof. Sanjay Jeram, who teaches political science at Simon Fraser University, said the Liberals have a leader in Wilkinson who carries too much political baggage from past Liberal governments.
“He brought with him a legacy of the past and that really hurt them,” he said. “They really need to rebrand. The rebrand may start with the leader.”
He said the Green party, which increased its seat total by one with a win in West Vancouver-Sea to Sky, has given itself four years to build its base after posting similar results to the 2017 election.
Adam Olsen, re-elected as the Green member for Saanich North and the Islands, said the party presented itself as a viable alternative to the traditional parties.
He said the Greens worked with the NDP minority government in the last legislature and will likely do so again, but now it will be different for Horgan and the NDP.
“For the first time in his premiership he’s going to have to take responsibility for the decisions that they make and not try to shuffle all the ones that are more difficult onto us,” Olsen said. “That’s going to be a new world for him as well.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau congratulated Horgan on the victory, saying he is looking forward to working with the premier on the response to the global pandemic.