Chilliwack BC Liberal incumbent John Martin in the riding on election day on Oct. 24, 2020. (Darren McDonald photo)

Chilliwack BC Liberal incumbent John Martin in the riding on election day on Oct. 24, 2020. (Darren McDonald photo)

BC Liberal candidate John Martin trailing NDP’s Dan Coulter in Chilliwack riding

Conservative Diane Janzen is a factor in a tight race as a right wing vote splitter

In an extremely tight race in the Chilliwack riding, it appears incumbent John Martin is heading to defeat against BC NDP challenger Dan Coulter.

With 54 of 82 ballot boxes counted and mail-in votes still to be tallied, Coulter has captured 1,909 votes or 34.63 per cent of the electorate.

Martin has tallied 1,666 votes or 30.22 per cent of the electorate.

The BC Liberal candidate might look to Diane Janzen as the biggest reason if he goes on to lose. Initially, she sought to run in Martin’s place as a BC Liberal, but when the local riding association opted for the incumbent she changed lanes and joined the Conservatives.

READ MORE: All your 2020 B.C. election coverage in one place

READ MORE: Who exactly is the right ‘right’ in this election?

Janzen ran with a campaign slogan of ‘Don’t split the right, vote right,’ but that’s precisely what has occurred.

Janzen is currently a distant third with 1,117 votes or 20.26 per cent of the vote.

But if those right-leaning voters had cast their ballot for Martin, a tight race might look very different.

Coulter was also an uncommonly strong candidate for the BC NDP. Historically speaking, the right-leaning Chilliwack riding has been a ‘safe’ riding for the BC Liberals and a bad bet for the NDP, but Coulter entered the race with name recognition as the Chilliwack School Board chair, and pundits like former Chilliwack mayor Clint Hames projected him to win.

Finally, Martin also had to overcome chaos in his neighboring riding.

Laurie Throness was removed as BC Liberal candidate in the Chilliwack-Kent riding after expressing controversial views on free birth-control, and public backlash against the BC Liberals may have spilled over into Martin’s race.

Due to the pandemic, more British Columbians have decided to vote by mail-in ballot than ever before. Election results won’t be finalized until after Nov. 6., after those mail-in ballots are counted. An estimated 5,809 number of mail-in ballots were requested by Elections BC within the Chilliwack riding, and 7,650 in Chilliwack-Kent. There are 37,676 registered voters in Chilliwack and 43,698 in Chilliwack-Kent.

Across B.C., a total of 478,900 mail-in ballots were returned to Election BC, as of Friday, Oct. 22.

There are roughly 3.5 million registered voters in the province.


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eric.welsh@theprogress.com

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BC politicsBC Votes 2020