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Babchuk declared winner in North Island

Nearly three-quarters of votes counted and mail-in ballots still to come

NDP candidate Michele Babchuk has been declared the winner in the North Island riding by Canadian Press.

The results are, with 94 of the 101 ballot boxes reported and 13,166 total valid votes cast as of 11:48 p.m.:

  • Michel Babchuk, NDP – 6,154 total votes; 46.74% of popular vote.
  • Norm Facey, Liberal – 3,176 total votes; 24.12% of popular vote.
  • Alexandra Morton, Green – 2,895 total votes; 21.99% of popular vote.
  • John Twigg, Conservative – 941 total votes; 7.15% of popular vote.

Babchuk said she was “just really happy” with how the night went after a “different” election campaign.

She said the election was all about “what kind of government (the voters) want to lead us through this second wave of COVID-19 pandemic and they’ve been happy with what John has done and I’m very proud of what he’s been able to accomplish even before the pandemic. So, I think that was the message that we heard tonight…that it’s never been more important to invest in health care and fixing longterm care for seniors and that’s what John’s plan does.”

Babchuk paid tribute to the other candidates on the ballot, complimenting them on stepping forward and standing for what they believed in.

“It was a great group of candidates,” she said, “and I am very honoured to have been one of the candidates up there.”

Babchuk said she is going to have a “bit of a down day tomorrow and take a little breather for myself before I actually get working again on Monday.”

Babchuk, of course, still holds a seat on Campbell River city council and will have to determine what is to be done with that.

The North Island riding’s Green Party candidate Alexandra Morton said it felt amazing when she jumped out a big early lead tonight in the polls.

She added it also felt a “little bit scary because people are putting their trust in me, but I think people were really saying they liked what they heard from me — they want to bring back wild salmon and they want their roads fixed.”

While NDP candidate Michele Babchuk ended up retaking the lead in the polls soon after, Morton noted she had actually reached out to Babchuk earlier in the campaign and she feels that the North Island riding is “in safe hands with her.”

Morton was running in second place with a slim lead over Liberal candidate Norm Facey for most of the night but was overtaken later but she was confidant these numbers tell us “people want a way forward.”

As for what the experience was like running in an election for the first time ever, Morton added it was amazing because “People really will stop and talk to you. When I spoke with nurses, loggers, doctors and mayors they were all really willing to talk and I learned so much.”

What’s next for Morton? She will continue her decades long quest to “bring back our fourth pillar of the economy, wild salmon. That has not changed.”

BC Liberal candidate Norm Facey trailed Morton in third place for most of the night but pulled ahead of her after 11 p.m. When he talked to the Campbell River Mirror/North Island Gazette earlier, he was not completly conceding defeat but sounded philosophical about the results.

“I am still looking for a few key polls to come in,” Facey said around 10:15 p.m., although he did concede at that time, being slightly behind Morton in third place, that it was “not the trend that I’d like to see.”

Facey said he missed the energy that would have come with people gathering for campaign events in the final days of the election campaign. He said he talked to lots of people who expressed support for him and he “was expecting to do reasonably well.”

Facey was gracious to his opponents, particularly Morton.

“She ran a better campaign than I expected,” he said. “So I congratulate her on doing a good job.”

He said that Babchuk was the front runner and had an advantage from that.

“Obviously, the voters liked her and that’s showing so far,” Facey said.

Even at that point, Facey was still positive, pointing out that the advance polls had yet to be counted.

There are also still up to 8,053 vote-by-mail ballots to count in the North Island riding. That’s how many were requested from Elections BC. It remains to be seen what percentage are returned and it will take up to 13 days to count them. The riding has 45,121 registered voters.

Note that Elections BC says, “Final count is the count of absentee ballots that were not considered at initial count, including mail-in ballots. At the end of final count, the district electoral officer can declare a candidate elected.

“Final count normally starts 13 days after Election Day and lasts for three days. Due to the large volume of mail-in ballots in the 2020 Provincial General Election, this timeline may be extended.”

RELATED: Horgan, NDP head for majority in B.C. election results

RELATED: B.C. VOTES 2020 MAP: Provincial election results, riding by riding

– With files from Tyson Whitney – North Island Gazette