Some interesting ridings to watch on election night, tonight

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In 2013, 14 ridings across British Columbia were decided by fewer than 1,000 votes. Six of those ridings were decided by fewer than 500 ballots.

Here are some interesting ridings to watch on election night, tonight. This election is expected to have many close races as well. These eight will be some of the most compelling to watch.

Surrey-Fleetwood: Last election, Langley mayor Peter Fassbender was able to squeak this riding out for the Liberals by 200 votes, their smallest margin of victory in the entire province, meaning if the NDP have any chance of forming a government, this is a riding they surely have to take.

And they have reason for optimism. For one, the boundaries have shifted west, eliminating some of the areas near Cloverdale that heavily supported the B.C. Liberals four years ago. For another, Fassbender was education minister during the 2014 teacher’s dispute, and many Surrey schools are bursting at the seams.

This only reinforces the fact that if the NDP win the minimum eight new seats required to get a majority, this has to be one of them.

Delta North: Liberal incumbent Scott Hamilton has been down this road before. After winning the election in Delta North by 203 votes in 2013, Hamilton is once again expected to be in a close race. This time his opponent will be former Olympian and NDP staffer Ravi Kahlon.

The NDP was expected to win the riding for a third straight time in 2013, but with MLA Guy Gentner retiring, Scott Hamilton defeated NDP candidate Sylvia Bishop by 203 votes, taking the riding for the B.C. Liberals. Housing affordability and transportation, including the future of the Massey Tunnel, are the main issues this time around.

Vancouver-Fraserview: Of all the ridings in the city of Vancouver, this one is likely going to be the closest. Vancouver-Fraserview has been decided by 1,200 votes or fewer in four of the last five elections, including just 470 votes in 2013.

Suzanne Anton is seeking re-election after being elected for the first time in 2013 and having served most recently as Attorney General. Her main competition is George Chow, who like Anton, is a former Vancouver city councillor.

Coquitlam-Maillardville: When B.C. Liberal Steve Kim opened the newspaper the day after the 2013 provincial election he would have seen himself listed as the MLA for Coquitlam-Maillardville. But after absentee ballots came in and a re-count was launched, B.C. NDP candidate Selina Robinson was declared the winner by 41 votes.

Kim and Robinson will once again face off in what was the closest race of the last election. The B.C. NDP have won the seat in seven of the last 10 elections, but in those seven wins, it has never won it by more than 1,500 votes.

Burnaby-Lougheed: The northeast of Burnaby’s four ridings, this switched from the Liberals to the NDP in 2013 but the winner, Jane Shin, is not running again.

The NDP have replaced her with Katrina Chen, a popular school board trustee, while the B.C. Liberals are running a familiar face in the riding in Steve Darling, the longtime Global B.C. morning news anchor, who decided to enter politics a month after he was let go by the station.  With the Kinder Morgan pipeline ending in the riding, and the lack of incumbent candidate, it’s received plenty of attention from both Horgan and Clark during the election campaign.

Fraser-Nicola: this is one of the several ridings between Surrey and Kamloops that switched from the NDP to the Liberals last election, and it’s a rematch from four years ago: veteran politician Harry Lali is hoping to retake the seat from Liberal MLA Jackie Tegart, the former mayor of Ashcroft.

This vast riding with several mid-sized communities has struggled economically in recent years. The lumber mill in the largest town (Merritt) shut down in 2016, and the addition of Hope to the district should also help the NDP.

But the Liberals have promised several highway improvements, and veteran MLAs like Lali seeking a comeback don’t have the strongest track record.

Skeena: The B.C. Liberals have only won this northwest B.C. riding once, in 2001, but believe they have a chance this time because of their candidate: Ellis Ross, a former Haisla Nation chief who has championed the yet-to-develop LNG Industry for many years.

The mid-sized riding, which includes the cities of Terrace and Kitimat, has a large Aboriginal population that tends to overwhelmingly vote for the NDP. But if close to half of them vote for Ross in this election, it would give the Liberals the win.
Saanich North and the Islands: The only riding where the same Green, NDP and Liberal candidates are running again is Saanich North and the Islands. NDP incumbent Gary Holman beat Liberal candidate Stephen Roberts by 163 votes in 2013. Green Party candidate Adam Olsen finished third, just 379 behind Holman.The Green party has targeted the riding as the most likely spot that it can add to the one it won in 2013. The riding is made up of the Gulf Islands, Sidney and parts of Central Saanich.

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