With the election-day choice made, Nelson-Creston remains an NDP stronghold in a province where the Liberals make decisions. This leaves MLA Michelle Mungall in a familiar place — battling for her riding amid a minority opposition.
Working for Nelson-Creston is a challenging assignment when the government in power may not be agreeable. Still Mungall says she’s up for the task, mustering enthusiasm to soldier on.
“That’s the job I’ve been given and I do my job,” she told the Nelson Star Wednesday morning. “We need to press on. This region has a clear vision and I know that myself and the other Kootenay MLAs with the NDP will be bringing that vision to the legislature.”
Foremost in Mungall’s mind as she begins another term is “keeping Jumbo wild.” With the re-election of East Kootenay MLA Bill Bennett, the Liberal’s pro-resort stance will move forward despite 20 years of local opposition, she says.
“Jumbo is the most immediate flashpoint because there are decisions being made about that land right now,” she says. “People in this area are determined not to see a resort there.”
In addition to environment, Mungall also plans to focus on issues of education, health care, and building a stronger economy — expressed priorities of Nelson-Creston during this election campaign. She hopes to see restoration of services in schools and hospitals.
“Hopefully we’ll have a government who’s amenable to restoring health care services and to restoring education and making sure young people have every opportunity in the world as opposed to using the same old excuse that there is not enough money. We found the money. We put forward ideas. It’s time the Liberals step forward as well,” she says.
The NDP will also be trying to come up with ideas of their own. The losing party is holding a caucus meeting in the coming days to address what went wrong with their election campaign despite being one that Mungall says they’re proud of.
“There are a lot of questions, certainly, that we have,” she says.
Christy Clark’s BC Liberals pulled off a shocking upset Tuesday, winning a fourth consecutive majority government over the NDP, leading in polls for almost two years. Just before Election Day, Angus Reid forecast 45 per cent of voters going NDP with Liberals in second at 36 per cent approval.
When votes were counted Liberals had picked up five seats winning 44.4 per cent of the popular vote. The NDP ended up with 39.5 per cent support.
Mungall discredits neither her party with some members remaining from Premier Glen Clark’s era nor the current NDP leader who were targeted by the Liberals during the campaign and political analysts afterwards. Adrian Dix “did a good job” and any blame aimed at the top is misplaced, she says.
“I think it’s a lot of responsibility to put on one person’s shoulders,” she says. “This is a team effort. Even Christy Clark recognized it takes countless volunteers to come forward and to make democracy happen. This is a team effort and we have to do some analysis of what happened here.”
According to Angus Reid, young voters indicated they’d vote NDP at a rate of 2 to 1. According to initial reports slightly less than half of eligible British Columbians voted.
“We’ll see who were the demographics who didn’t get out and vote. Was it young people again? And did it make a difference,” says Mungall. “Elections BC… did a lot in this election to enumerate, to educate, to engage people and yet, we still ended up with a low voter turnout. We need to start asking what’s going on with our democracy.”