Incumbent MLA candidate Joan McIntyre returns to represent the West Vancouver-Sea to Sky riding in the B.C. legislature after taking little more than 54 per cent of the votes during Tuesday’s (May 12) provincial election.
With all polls reporting, McIntyre had 9,512 votes (54.75 per cent) to 4,001 for NDP candidate Juliana Buitenhuis (23.03 per cent) and 3,862 (22.23 per cent) for Jim Stephenson of the Green Party.
BC Elections officials said the votes hadn’t been broken down to polling stations. However they did state that the riding’s voter turnout was 52 per cent, down about eight per cent from the 2005 election, and four per cent above the provincial average.
And the coinciding B.C. Single Transferable Vote (BC-STV) electoral-reform referendum was soundly defeated in its second appearance on the ballot.
The results mark a slight improvement for McIntyre from her first win in 2005, while the Greens slipped from the second place showing they earned in the previous two provincial elections to allow the NDP to reclaim second.
“I was very excited with the results because I lost 4,000 potential voters in West Vancouver with the riding redistribution,” McIntyre said Wednesday (May 13) morning. “Personally I was hoping to get 50 per cent of the vote and it looks like I made it.”
In her first term, McIntyre said she focused on building relationships and connecting with everyone from First Nations to the Indo-Canadian community.
“I think the strength of last term was the relationships I built. This job is a matter of working hard and getting to know community priorities,” McIntyre said.
With the 2010 Winter Games around the corner, McIntyre said her goal will be to leverage legacies for the entire riding.
“I would like to see places like Squamish have a good experience with the Games. There has been some feeling of discontent but there are still some real opportunities to build pride and make the most of a once in a lifetime opportunity,” McIntyre said.
In the last election, the NDP swept Squamish but McIntyre said she did well at the Squamish polls this go around.
“I spent a lot of time in Squamish and it feels very good to do well there,” she said.
McIntyre is part of the Liberal machine that helped leader Gordon Campbell win a historic third-term as B.C.’s premier with a majority government.
The Liberals won 49 of the province's 85 ridings, while the New Democrats won 36. At dissolution there were 42 Liberals, 34 NDP and three vacancies in the B.C. legislature.
As the economy weighed heavily on the minds of B.C. residents, the Liberals positioned themselves as the safe bet to steer the province through tough times, arguing NDP Leader Carole James was not up to the job.
McIntyre said it was a tactic that paid off.
“It was a nail biter at the polls but we stuck to our main message about the economy. We have a strong track record of turning the economy around and voters recognized that we are the best party to get us through tough times,” McIntyre said.
In the Sea to Sky Corridor, McIntyre said strong relationships will help communities push through challenging economic times.
NDP candidate Buitenhuis acknowledged defeat and disappointment that change did not occur in the Sea to Sky Corridor.
“I really hoped that there would be a change and I thought people who had seen the Eagleridge Bluffs disaster would be moved a bit more to action,” Buitenhuis said.
“There was busload of people protesting Eagleridge Bluffs that went to Victoria. It stopped at her office and she refused to come out and speak to them. To me, being MLA means representing the constituency… you work for the people in your constituency.”
Regardless of the defeat, Buitenhuis said she plans to do it all over again in the next election. Buitenhuis ran her campaign as a fulltime working mother in school.
“The other candidates were able to campaign fulltime and I wasn’t able to do that. I have a support base, but really I’m putting up my own signs, answering my own phone calls and my own emails,” Buitenhuis said. “Jim has run twice federally and Joan is a politician.”
Stephenson offered to jump into Horseshoe Bay if he won the election, in what he called the “give Jim pneumonia” campaign, but now won’t have to face the risk of hypothermia. The Green Party candidate said he was disappointed with the low voter turnout.
Stephenson said he will be taking a close look at voter numbers.
“Maybe a whole bunch of Greens didn’t bother to vote. I wish voters would have supported me so I could have spoken to issues that need to be addressed,” Stephenson said.
“I am depressed that every stream with hydro-electric potential will soon be surrounded with transmission lines.”