Voters across British Columbia are marking their ballots as a sometimes bruising 28-day election campaign fought on jobs, the economy and the influence of big donors in provincial politics wraps up.
Polls opened at 8 a.m. and Green Leader Andrew Weaver was among the first in line at a middle school in his Victoria-area constituency of Oak Bay-Gordon Head.
Weaver was surrounded by excited students before he cast his ballot.
“It was a lot of kids excited to see us come and vote there. And that’s what it’s about. It’s about making decisions that are not only for this generation, but also for the next,” he said.
“I hope that British Columbians get to the polls today and whatever happens, happens. I’m looking forward to seeing what the results are.”
Liberal Leader Christy Clark represents the Okanagan constituency of Kelowna West, but voted at a community centre in Vancouver.
Poll workers had to intervene when a man approached Clark yelling insults. As she left the polling station, Clark stopped to say hello to a young girl.
Speaking at a campaign office in her riding, Clark said she’s confident the Liberals have done everything they could to reach voters over the past four weeks of campaigning.
“I think British Columbians heard the message about how important it is that we fight for jobs, especially in the face of rising U.S. protectionism in the United States and that we keep taxes low, stay competitive, leave more money in people’s pockets and that we keep up the good work that we’ve been doing for four years,” she said.
New Democrat Leader John Horgan voted at an advance poll.
This election is being fought on a new electoral map and 87 seats in the legislature are up for grabs, with 371 candidates vying for them. When the election was called, the Liberals had 47 seats, the New Democrats 35, and there were three Independents, including Weaver.
The B.C. Liberal party has been in power for 16 years and is attempting to build on four straight majority governments by running on the party’s record of economic growth and financial stability.
The NDP has tried to make Clark’s leadership as premier the central issue of the campaign. Horgan accused her of being out of touch with average people on issues such as the cost of housing and inadequate education funding.
Weaver’s pitch features a disavowal of politics as usual. He told voters his party is the only one offering something that’s different on climate change and on preparing the province for a new economy spurred by technological change.
Negative ads and attacks between the NDP and the Liberals over political fundraising laws that place no limits on corporate and union donations have also been a prime part of the political debate.
The NDP accused the Liberals of dragging their feet on political fundraising by failing to back bills in the legislature that would have banned donations from the corporate and labour sectors. The Liberals shot back by highlighting donations the New Democrats received from the United Steelworkers.
The Canadian Press