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In a surprise twist, Liberals hold on to West Vancouver-Sea to Sky by 41 votes

Judicial recount to be conducted by B.C. Supreme Court following close result
File photo of Jordan Sturdy.
File photo of Jordan Sturdy.

West Vancouver-Sea to Sky is poised to stay red after the Greens were initially projected to win the riding following the election last month.

Although it looked like Jeremy Valeriote of the B.C. Green Party would take the riding after election day on Oct. 24, it’s apparent that Liberal incumbent Jordan Sturdy has held on to the seat now that 100 per cent of the vote has been accounted for.

Sturdy won the election by a mere 41 ballots, according to results made available by Elections BC on Saturday. With mail-in ballots accounted for, Sturdy has ended up with 9,216 total votes, or 37.52 per cent of the popular vote, against 9,175 total ballots cast for Valeriote.

By the end of election day last month, polls showed that Valeriote was leading with 7,019 votes and he was projected to win the riding against Sturdy’s 6,415 ballots.

However, that didn’t take into account the high number of mail-in ballots that hadn’t been counted yet.

This year, mail-in votes accounted for about 18 per cent of the 42,786 voters registered in West Vancouver-Sea to Sky, a massive increase from the 2017 election where only 114 ballots were mailed in for the riding.

Elections BC began its ballots count for mail-in votes on Friday, with candidates and voters alike left waiting to find out if those ballots would make a difference to the final tally.

With Sturdy looking like he has squeaked in a victory at the 11th hour, he’ll continue years of Liberal dominance in the riding, which has remained red for the last three decades.  

Under the Election Act, a judicial recount must take place because the final vote between the two candidates is so close. The recount, and the timing of the recount, will be conducted and determined by the B.C. Supreme Court, and may include some or all of the ballots, according to Elections BC.

When reached by phone after all the votes in the riding were accounted for Saturday, Sturdy called the result a “pleasant surprise” but wasn’t celebrating just yet.

“There’s 41 votes, come on. It’s flipped once,” said Sturdy. “It’s really too early to be declaring anything, I’d say. There’s clearly going to be a judicial recount. Obviously it’s tightened up as I thought it would.”

Noting the diversity of the riding and what a pleasure it has been to serve the people of West Vancouver-Sea to Sky, Sturdy said he would hope to be able to carry on as MLA following a judicial recount.

“We’re going to count it again and we’ll see where we are at the end of the week,” he said.

Had Valeriote been elected, his seat would have been a first in the Lower Mainland for the Green Party, and his win would have secured official party status for the provincial Greens.

Valeriote said that the flip was unexpected, but he hadn’t made any assumptions of victory.

“I was surprised but I hadn’t taken anything for granted so I knew it wasn’t over until all the votes were counted,” he said.

Valeriote added that for the immediate future, he hasn’t decided on what the next steps are. When reached by The Chief on Monday he said was undecided as to whether he would be an observer for the recount.

He said he and his family were doing fine, though it was a little bit difficult to explain the situation to his six-year-olds.

“They’re not entirely aware of the complexities,” he said, noting that it’s hard to lay out the mail-in voting system to young children.

As Valeriote waits, he has a message for people in Squamish.

“Thank you for your votes. Thank you for your support,” he said.

“We all have to sit tight and wait for the recount. Appreciate everyone’s patience. Appreciate everyone who’s good for democracy.”

- With files from Jane Seyd (North Shore News), Steven Chua and Jennifer Thuncher (The Squamish Chief)

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