Candidates in the Parksville-Qualicum riding include Rob Lyon, B.C. Green Party, top left; Don Purdey, Conservatives; John St. John, independent; Michelle Stilwell, B.C. Liberals; and Adam Walker, B.C. NDP. (Photos submitted/Elections B.C. image)

Candidates in the Parksville-Qualicum riding include Rob Lyon, B.C. Green Party, top left; Don Purdey, Conservatives; John St. John, independent; Michelle Stilwell, B.C. Liberals; and Adam Walker, B.C. NDP. (Photos submitted/Elections B.C. image)

UPDATE: NDP’s Adam Walker the front-runner in Parksville-Qualicum

Mail-in ballots still to be tabulated

B.C. NDP candidate Adam Walker is the clear front-runner in the Parksville-Qualicum Beach riding after ballots were tabulated following Saturday’s provincial election.

With 116 of 116 polls reporting, Walker has 7,308 votes (39.78 per cent), ahead of the 6,366 (34.65 per cent) for second-place Michelle Stilwell of the BC Liberal Party. Stilwell is aiming for a return as MLA. Rob Lyon of the BC Green Party is in third place with 3,319 votes (18.07 per cent), followed by Don Purdy (Conservatives) with 999 (5.44 per cent) and Independent canditate John St John with 378 (2.06 per cent).

While Canadian Press has declared Walker as the winner of the riding as of Saturday night, results will not be formally confirmed until after mail-in ballots are tabulated, sometime after Nov. 6. Results from Elections BC so far include advance voting and day-of votes.

“While the results are looking very positive for me so far, democracy will take just a little longer here in this riding,” said Walker. “I feel very strongly that every vote matters, and that every vote must be counted properly. Many people chose the option of the mail-in ballot in this election and I think everyone deserves to have their voice heard. I look forward to seeing the final results in a couple of weeks.”

Stilwell said “it’s early and we will wait for [the outstanding ballots] to be counted to see what the people will say.”

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, more British Columbians have decided to vote by mail-in ballot than ever before. Across B.C., a total of 497,900 mail-in ballots were returned to Elections BC, as of Friday, Oct. 23.

In the Parksville-Qualicum riding, 14,273 vote-by-mail packages were issued.

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

READ MORE: NDP’s Josie Osborne declared the winner in Mid Island-Pacific Rim riding

READ MORE: MAP: Provincial election results, riding by riding

“I certainly believe that my people vote in Parksville-Qualicum,” she said. “They take democracy very seriously, and I trust that the vote will come out and the people will say what they want and what they believe. I work hard for this community and I hope they’ll give me that confidence and we’ll wait maybe two weeks to get that decision.”

Stilwell said the snap election call “has been a struggle for many people and I think it’s been a challenge for democracy as a whole.”

“It didn’t allow candidates to get their message out for people to have the ability to learn what the different platforms are and what people stand for, whey they believe in and what their plan is, she said, later adding “at the end of the day the people have had the opportunity to vote, to have their say and we’ll wait for the result and we will respect that result.”

Lyon said he was pleased with the numbers so far.

“We made great gains,” he said. “So that was good. And the other ballots have to be counted. Hopefully they’ll make a difference.”

Lyon also panned the snap election call.

“I didn’t like the way the election was called,” he said. “The snap election during the pandemic, which restricted us from getting out. So that was that. But we didn’t all play on the same level field – the NDP had months in advance warning that they knew what was going on. If it wasn’t a snap election, I probably wouldn’t even have run. It was the emotion and the circumstances that got me to say ‘this isn’t right’, and step up and put my name in the hat, so to speak.”

Roughly 681,000 people cast their ballot during the seven days of advanced voting that ended Wednesday, compared to 614,389 in 2017.

In B.C.’s 2017 election, Stilwell was the winner, with 14,468 votes (45.13 per cent). Sue Powell (NDP) was second with 9,189 votes (28.66 per cent) and Glenn Sollitt (Green Party) third with 8,157 (25.44 per cent)

— Mandy Moraes, Michael Briones, PQB News

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BC Liberal Party candidate Michelle Stilwell, right, and supporters watch as election results come in on Oct. 24, 2020. (Michael Briones photo)

BC Liberal Party candidate Michelle Stilwell, right, and supporters watch as election results come in on Oct. 24, 2020. (Michael Briones photo)

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