Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](,dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

The newly elected NDP MLA for Port Moody-Coquitlam, Joe Trasolini, centre, celebrates his victory surrounded by colleagues, supporters and family in Port Moody, B.C. on April 19, 2012.

Rafal Gerszak for The Globe and Mail

The NDP have swept to a decisive victory in both British Columbia by-elections – including a landslide win in an area where the party has not won since provincial elections began more than a century ago.

The results – particularly in Chilliwack-Hope, an area where a left-wing party has never won – are what the NDP hoped for and the B.C. Liberals had feared. A split in the right-of-centre vote tore down what had been two Liberal bastions, with the NDP scoring clear wins in both.

In Port Moody-Coquitlam, former Port Moody mayor Joe Trasolini scored an outright majority, with 54 per cent of the vote, with all polls reporting; B.C. Liberal Dennis Marsden trailed with 30 per cent; B.C. Conservative Christine Clarke had 15 per cent.

Story continues below advertisement

In Chilliwack-Hope, the NDP margin of victory was narrower, with Gwen O'Mahony scoring 41 per cent, with all polls reporting. B.C. Liberal Laurie Throness received 31 per cent; B.C. Conservative John Martin, 25 per cent.

The split in the right-of-centre vote in Chilliwack handed victory to the NDP – but the combined Liberal-Conservative vote tally was lower than in the 2009 general election, indicating the NDP has had some success in peeling away left-leaning Liberal voters.

The by-elections have been fought not just for the seats, but as a way to shape the political narrative of the months leading up to the May, 2013 general election.

In a statement released by her office, Premier Christy Clark said the results showed a split of the right-of-centre vote among her B.C. Liberals and the B.C. Conservatives. "It's never been clearer that only a unified free enterprise coalition can defeat the NDP," she said in the statement.

For NDP Leader Adrian Dix, the results are proof that his party is ready to expel the Liberals from power after more than a decade in opposition. "Quite a night," said an ebullient Mr. Dix, his voice cracked from cheering at a packed Chilliwack restaurant. "It's a substantial win. Seventy per cent of voters voted against the government tonight."

The New Democrats expanded their share of the vote and gained a toehold in the Fraser Valley: "it shows when people are given a real choice, the NDP is going to gain votes," he said.

The third-place results were disappointing for the Conservatives, whose leader vowed a better showing in the 2013 general election. "Next time out, we'll have a better organization on the ground," John Cummins told reporters. Mr. Cummins denied that his party split the centre-right vote and handed victory to the New Democrats. "The Liberal vote disintegrated, our vote is solid," he said.

Story continues below advertisement

The B.C. Liberals sought to regain popularity by changing leaders last year, but the party has fared little better under Premier Clark. Battered by the introduction of the harmonized sales tax, the governing B.C. Liberals have since sunk far in the polls, with two recent opinion surveys showing them neck in neck with the B.C. Conservatives – with both parties well behind the NDP.

The B.C. Liberals won handily in both Port-Moody-Coquitlam and Chilliwack-Hope in the 2009 general election, racking up double-digit margins over the NDP.

The 2012 by-elections delivered a much different result, underscoring the seismic shift in B.C. politics in the last two and a half years – underscored by the fact that both the NDP and Conservative candidates in the Port Moody-Coquitlam race are former B.C. Liberals.

In 2009, the Liberals won Port Moody-Coquitlam with 52 per cent of vote compared to 40 per cent for the B.C. NDP, with the Green Party third with 6 per cent.

There was no B.C. Conservative candidate in the race. Indeed, the current B.C. Conservative candidate Christine Clarke worked in that campaign as a volunteer for the Liberal victor, Iain Black.

The B.C. New Democrats recruited Mr. Trasolini, who came to provincial politics after 15 years in Port Moody municipal politics. The popular mayor was once a B.C. Liberal, and chaired Premier Clark's first successful MLA campaign in 1995, but dropped his partisan affiliation after being elected mayor.

Story continues below advertisement

Mr. Marsden, the B.C. Liberal candidate, is a branch manager for a credit union and a former treasurer for the Eagle Ridge Hospital Foundation.

The Chilliwack-Hope area has been a traditional stronghold for centre-right parties, switching from Social Credit to B.C. Liberal in 1991.

In 2009, B.C. Liberal Barry Penner defeated Ms. O'Mahony by a comfortable 20-point margin, with 53 per cent to her 33 per cent. In that contest, the B.C. Conservative candidate took just 7 per cent, with the Greens at 6 per cent.

Mr. Penner, who held the riding since 1996, stepped down in January.

Mr. Penner's would-be successor, Mr. Throness, was chosen by the party for his strong federal Conservative ties, in the hopes that he could bring back disaffected B.C. Liberals. Mr. Throness was chief of staff to the popular former Conservative MP for the region, Chuck Strahl.

His rival for right-of-centre votes has a higher profile in the community. Mr. Martin, a university professor and popular local newspaper columnist, ran a low-budget campaign but tried to capitalize on the B.C. Liberals' sagging support.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the authors of this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies