Ian Paton has mixed emotions following Saturday’s provincial election, which saw him win a second term in Delta South for the Liberals by a wide margin, while the fortunes for his party went south.
“I’m very grateful and I think people know me as the kind of guy if someone, and it doesn’t matter who, walks past me on the street in Ladner or Tsawwassen, I always like to say good morning, and if you’re ever walking past my office, please pop in and have a coffee. I think people appreciate that,” Paton told the Optimist Monday afternoon following Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson’s resignation announcement.
Premier John Horgan’s decision to call an early snap election during COVID-19 paid off as the NDP increased its 41-seat minority into a 55-seat majority, according to preliminary results Saturday night.
Hundreds of thousands of mail-in ballots still have to be processed, but the early numbers already had the NDP winning its largest majority in B.C. history, taking out several high-profile Liberal incumbents along the way.
The Liberals won just 29 seats while the Greens have three again.
Paton said it should be no surprise a party leader steps down following such a loss, and that it’s also sad to see so many quality MLAs lose their seats.
He noted that his party will hopefully secure additional seats following the count of mail-in ballots and afterward will start the selection of finding a new leader as Wilkinson stays on for the interim.
Paton reiterated the NDP knew they’d be calling an election months before it was announced, while giving just over a month’s notice for everyone else.
Paton said Health Minister Adrian Dix, as well as Horgan, used their opportunities to stand with provincial Medical Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry during her updates to reiterate how the government has done a good job dealing with COVID-19, all the while Wilkinson was challenged getting such media exposure.
“We did agree as the B.C. Liberals and the Green Party to work closely with the NDP through all this, through all the financial woes and health woes, but there was a broken promise,” said Paton. “My dad always taught me in business when you shake somebody’s hand or sign a contract you stick with that. John Horgan broke a contract with Sonia Furstenau and the Green Party and he broke the legislation of a fixed election year from now.”
Paton added he and his families many years of community involvement gave him valuable recognition in the riding where he was raised.
Thanking his volunteers and those who took the time to vote for him, Delta South NDP candidate Bruce Reid said he congratulates Paton, but it’s disappointing someone once again representing Delta South won’t be in government.
Fortunately, the New Democrat government won’t be penalizing the riding as a result, he noted.
“I still want to make myself available to the NDP party to represent South Delta as much as I can because it’s obviously something I believe in,” said Reid.
“I’m not really surprised by the overall projection because a majority government was projected and they also projected that this riding was still a safe Liberal riding. I’m still happy that it looks like our total vote count is going to be up, so that means we are making some inroads.”
Green candidate Peter van der Velden said he’s glad the Greens appeared to be making progress in the riding, adding his late entry in the race may have cost them some additional votes.
Receiving endorsement from former two-term Delta South independent MLA Vicki Huntington, van der Velden said he’s proud what the Greens have been able to accomplish in B.C.
“I think we did fairly well. I would like to have seen us do better, but the big thing for me was the timing of the election. It was no accident, I think, they (NDP) called it because probably within a month we’re going to get the report on geotechnical issues for Site C (dam project) and I think B.C. is going to have to wake up to the fact we have a multi-billion dollar white elephant on our hands and that’s not going to reflect well on John Horgan or the NDP, and of course the Liberals are going to be tainted with that brush as well,” he said.
Paton won Delta South on election day with 8,644 votes (52.42 per cent of the popular vote), ahead of Reid who had 5,358 votes (32.49 per cent) and van der Velden who had 2,487 votes (15.08 per cent).
Paton in the 2017 election received 44 per cent of the popular vote.