British Columbia’s New Democrats posted victories in byelections on southern Vancouver Island and downtown Vancouver Saturday, keeping two seats held earlier this year by a former premier and a cabinet minister.
Community activist Joan Phillip won by a large margin in the urban Vancouver-Mount Pleasant constituency, receiving almost 68 per cent of the vote, while Ravi Parmar was elected with 53 per cent of the vote in the southern Vancouver Island riding of Langford-Juan de Fuca.
Both ridings, with Langford previously being held by former premier John Horgan, and Vancouver-Mount Pleasant, represented by former cabinet minister Melanie Mark, were considered NDP strongholds.
Horgan attended the victory celebration at the NDP’s Langford-Juan de Fuca campaign headquarters, where he took pleasure in posting the election results on chalkboard at the front of the room.
“I love this guy,” Horgan said at Parmar’s victory celebration. “He’s been a dear friend of mine since he was in Grade 5. He’s 28 years old. He’s the new generation out here in my community.”
Horgan said he first met Parmar when he was an elementary school student who invited the former premier to his class to give a presentation.
“Ravi knows he can call me anytime if he wants to talk about any issue,” said. Horgan. “But I’m confident he’s going to blaze his own trail.”
The Conservative Party of B.C., who did not run candidates in either riding in the 2020 provincial election, placed second in Langford-Juan de Fuca, with local realtor Mike Harris receiving almost 20 per cent of the vote.
Both ridings have been vacant since late March following the departures from the legislature of Horgan and Mark.
Premier David Eby said Parmar and Phillip are dedicated advocates for people in B.C.
“Joan and Ravi will be passionate champions, working every day to take action for the people of Vancouver-Mount Pleasant and Langford-Juan de Fuca,” he said in a statement.
Eby said Phillip is a respected Indigenous leader who has dedicated her life to fighting for justice, human rights, and the environment.
Parmar, at age 28, will now be the youngest member of the legislature, said Eby.
He said Parmar, who has been an education activist since he was a high school student, will bring his experience as the current board chairman of the local Sooke School District to the legislature.
Green Party candidate Camille Currie placed third in Langford-Juan de Fuca with almost 18 per cent of the vote, while B.C. United Candidate Elena Lawson was fourth with almost nine per cent of the vote.
B.C. United candidate Jackie Lee was a distant second in Vancouver-Mount Pleasant with 13.7 per cent of the vote, while Green candidate Wendy Hayko was third and Conservative Karin Litzcke placed fourth.
Tyson Riel Strandlund, running for the Communist Party of B.C. in Langford received less than one per cent of the vote and Communist candidate Kimball Cariou in Vancouver-Mount Pleasant received just over two per cent of the vote.
The current standings in the 87-seat B.C. legislature will now be : NDP at 57; BC United with 27; Green Party at two; with one Independent.