Waiting in Election Limbo – By Ray Hudson
Surrey Board of Trade Awaiting Resolution
If the counting of the absentee ballots, and the recounts in the ridings where the numbers mandate a recount don’t change anything, BC will have its first minority government since the time of WAC Bennett over sixty years ago. The trouble is, these additional ballots won’t be counted until May 22 to May 24. That’s what the election law says.
In the last election, there were some 159,000 absentee ballots cast, so if there are anywhere near that many again, they could resolve a number of issues, foremost among them, a Liberal majority government, if the ballots change the current outcome in Courtenay-Comox. NDP candidate Ronna-Rae Leonard who got 10,058 votes is the current winner. Liberal Jim Benninger, is just nine votes behind at 10,049.
Elsewhere in the Lower Mainland, the Liberals lost some important seats to their NDP rivals, possibly changing the business climate of the South Fraser region.
Anita Huberman, the CEO of the Surrey Board of Trade, the second largest board in the province reflected on the current political dilemma.
“We’re still waiting for the final outcome and really it’s a message to all parties that were involved in this election to work more collaboratively on the issues that their constituents want them to focus on for Surrey,” said Huberman. We’re talking about transportation and education, the top two issues here in addition to many others.”
She said the SBOT will speak to all parties, including the Greens about the investments that are needed in Surrey and the support that is needed for small and medium-sized businesses.
“I assumed it would be a close vote between the Liberals and the NDP and there were some surprises of course,” she replied when asked if the outcome surprised her. “Again it’s the constituents telling government that we want someone who will listen to our priorities and one that will listen to us and talk with us. People were clearly looking for change.”
“Whatever the outcome will be,” she continued, “it’s just an opportunity for BC to be a leader on many issues, and for government ministries to work closer and more collaboratively instead of in silos.
Huberman reminded that the SBOT approach is holistic. “It’s not only business-related issues, I’m always talking about the livability of Surrey. It’s about dealing with crime and public safety, or homelessness and poverty reduction. It’s about dealing with child care and putting people into the work force, in the face of skills shortages,” she said, “so it’s not just the politicians working together. It’s beyond that with all ministries working much more collaboratively on the issues of the day.”
The Green Party significantly increased its profile in the election, notwithstanding they only captured three seats. They are a growing force that the business community will have to deal with. Huberman was asked about the business association’s approach to the Greens.
“I think it’s always good when a new party with a new way of looking at things comes into play and we’ll be looking to work with the Greens should they have the balance of power when it comes to voting in the legislature,” she said. “We’ll be making every effort, even though we may disagree on some items, that they understand what the priorities are for the Surrey Board of Trade and Surrey’s business community.