By: Alan Radziwil
The BC Greens and the BC NDP brokered a historic deal last week with the intent to form the province’s new government.
After a tight race this election, and a vote recount that put the outcome on hold for more than two weeks, the BC Liberal Party, with 43 seats, had their sights set on becoming a minority government. However, the NDP secured 41 seats, and the BC Greens Party garnered a historic three seats, enough to potentially displace the incumbent party if their agreement holds.
In the Burnaby-Lougheed riding, which encompasses SFU’s Burnaby campus, NDP representative Katrina Chen won over Liberal candidate Steve Darling with a 48.06% vote in her favour. Surrey-Whalley NDP candidate Bruce Ralston took the riding that includes SFU’s Surrey campus with 58.62% of the vote.
SFU Harbour Centre lands in the Vancouver-False Creek riding won by Liberal Sam Sullivan by a margin of less than 2%, while SFU Woodwards is located in the Vancouver-Mount Pleasant riding captured by the NDP’s Melanie Mark with 65.31%.
All the ridings secured by the Greens are on Vancouver Island and include Saanich North and the Islands, Oak Bay-Gordon Head, and Cowichan Valley.
What does this mean for students?
For students, the election outcome could mean the continuation of the Liberal government. During the campaign period, the party promised to match the federal $2.2 billion that went to Metro Vancouver transit, give additional money for the BC open textbooks program, and finally bring ridesharing programs, like Uber, to Vancouver.
Due to the new coalition that has formed between the NDP and the Greens, students may instead look to see if the promises by the two parties are realized.
The NDP promised to eliminate interest on student loans, provide a $1,000 grant for students who complete their studies, improve mental health services access, increase the minimum wage to $15, and introduce a graduate school scholarship fund.
The Greens made promises to introduce tax forgiveness to students for up to five years, as well as create a report to determine how to make tuition fees cheaper. On top of that, the party wanted to invest $65 million over a four-year period to improve co-op programs available for undergraduates and high school students.
Burnaby-Lougheed’s newly-elected Katrina Chen noted in an interview with The Peak during her campaign the affordability issues faced by students.
“Tuition fees have doubled (or more) during the past decade — it’s been crazy. And then, at the same time, we also need to understand that the struggles come from provincial funding,” she said in March.
However, it is still possible that voters will be sent back to the polls. The narrow margin between the coalition and the governing party means that all sides are reluctant to give up a member to act as house speaker.
As the speaker is required to conduct business in the legislature, the future of the provincial government remains uncertain.
The legislature is scheduled to reconvene on June 22.
With files from Global News.