Jennifer Rice has been voted in as BC NDP MLA for the North Coast, with initial election results on the night declaring the NDP a majority government in the provincial elections on Oct. 24.
Rice will be returning for a third term to the anticipated NDP majority government with 54 out of the 87 seats in the provincial legislature being held by the orange.
“I’m still processing. I feel very humbled that the people of the North Coast, the Central Coast and Haida Gwaii have chosen me once again,” Rice told The Northern View on election night. “Being in service is such an honor and I can’t wait to get back to work. I feel very confident, considering the numbers, that I have a clear mandate.”
“The electoral race here in the North gave us chance to have some really good conversations about issues that are really important facing our region. So, things such as the challenges facing the fishing industry and what we need to do to support wild salmon, but also the critical importance of investing in affordable housing and better health care closer to home.”
“Clearly the plan we have in place, especially for economic recovery for COVID-19 and our response to the health crisis is speaking to people in British Columbia, so I am really pleased to see that,” she said.
When talking about the initial tallies on the night and the significant margins between candidates Rice said it is very humbling to see by numbers that the people of the region have put their trust in her.
“It’s such an honour,” she said.
Rice is optimistic about the majority government and the definite mandate it will bring and said it is clear that the vast majority of British Columbians are in agreement with the direction the NDP is going.
“I know many of the media outlets have declared it, but I’m either in denial still and or I am just trying to be cautiously optimistic. There is definitely a show of support for the NDP,” she said. “Clearly we have been on the right track. We are leading, so I will be confident in saying that makes me feel really good.”
Voter turnout was fairly typical for the riding according to preliminary numbers and was comparative to the last election which was over 50 per cent voter turn out, Rice said.
The North Coast riding has the second smallest population of all 87 ridings in B.C. but has the second-largest geographical area.
The mail-in ballots which will take a couple of weeks to confirm final numbers were appreciated by constituents, Rice said.
“I think it was convenient. I phoned a lot of people and a lot of them had chosen that option. I think the mail-in ballot really worked. It really helped people with mobility issues or people that were self-isolating at home. It helps with the democratic process.”
“I want to just offer congratulations to both Roy Jones Jr and Jody Craven. I think Roy really brought a passion to improving the lives of people in the North Coast. He is clearly passionate about our community and he brought up the importance of the fishing industry to the North Coast Central Coast and Haida Gwaii residents. That is something that resonates with me and I hope to bring those issues forward when I get back to the legislature.”
“As the incumbent, my MLA office is still available. I kept my staff on during the election so they could continue to help people if they needed help. I fully expect to be back to work probably first thing tomorrow- well maybe after a bit of a sleep in,” she said.
Ralph Weick, campaign manager for BC Liberal North Coast candidate Roy Jones Jr. said that despite the loss he was in good spirits and when the preliminary numbers became clear Jones Jr. telephoned to congratulate Rice on her win.
“He has great energy and plans to return to Haida Gwaii where he will continue to bring opportunities to the people there,” Weick said. “You can’t keep a good man down.
K-J Millar | Journalist
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