Liberals stage comeback to win in Canada's British Columbia

Wed May 15, 2013 3:52am EDT
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By Jennifer Kwan

VICTORIA, British Columbia (Reuters) - The incumbent Liberal Party won an election in the Canadian Pacific province of British Columbia on Tuesday, in a stunning comeback that defied the pollsters who had expected voters to boot the party out of power.

The Liberals, in power for more than a decade, lost support after the introduction, and then cancellation, of an unpopular sales tax. But they gained momentum late in an election campaign that focused on the economy, balanced budgets and controlled spending.

"Tonight we have received a mandate from the people of British Columbia and I say to the citizens of British Columbia you have humbled us," Premier Christy Clark said in a speech accepting her party's victory.

"During this campaign people told us that they want to know we will be sharing the economic benefits of this province with everyone. They told us that they wanted us to balance economic and environmental issues. We will heed those concerns."

A majority victory was predicted by several networks including CTV News and CBC.

At the time of her speech, Clark was still in a tight race with the New Democrats (NDP) challenger for her seat and the winner had yet to be decided.

The Liberals' victory was characterized as shocking by analysts because the party had trailed the left-leaning NDP by about 20 percentage points heading into the campaign.

Provisional returns at about 11:45 p.m. Pacific Time (0645 GMT Wednesday) showed the Liberals had won, or were ahead, in 50 of the 85 seats in the provincial legislature, while the NDP were heading for 33 seats. Forty-three seats are needed for a majority.   Continued...

British Columbia Premier and Liberal leader Christy Clark is kissed by a supporter while celebrating with her victory in the provincial election in Vancouver, British Columbia May 14, 2013. REUTERS/Andy Clark