Lisa Beare heads to the polls on election day with her daughter. (Special to The News)

Lisa Beare heads to the polls on election day with her daughter. (Special to The News)

NDP’s Beare defends her seat in Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows

With no green candidate, those votes went to NDP, Liberals speculate

NDP incumbent MLA Lisa Beare defended her seat in the riding of Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows, by a considerable margin over BC Liberal Cheryl Ashlie.

Just after midnight, Elections BC’s preliminary results showed Beare well ahead – 10,231 votes to 6,523 – with all 98 ballot boxes having reported. She had 61 per cent of the vote. There were approximately 2,700 mail-in votes still to be counted.

“I want to thank everyone for their support, and thank Cheryl for putting her name forward,” said Beare.

After connecting with people in the riding, Beare said she heard they are happy with the job the NDP has been doing.

“John Horgan has led us really well over the past months, through the pandemic, and as a party,” she said.

“People appreciate the work we’ve done the past three years, and appreciate John Horgan.”

Asked if it was a clean campaign in the riding, Beare said “I focused on positivity, and moving forward, and the work that we are doing here.”

The election was a lot different during the COVID-19 pandemic, with more advance and mail-in voting. Beare was socially distanced, and watched the election results come in at home with her husband Hendrik Butter and mother Linda Beare, instead of with a large gathering like the one at NDP headquarters in downtown Maple Ridge when she was elected in 2017. But Beare said her next call was a Zoom congratulations to her volunteers.

Liberal party members in the riding could see the writing on the ballot from the earliest polls on Saturday night. The first eight ballot boxes out of 98 showed Beare ahead 705 votes to 389, and she would scarcely lose any ground all night.

Polls from neighbourhoods Liberals had dominated in the last election were not going their way, and Ashlie got the news by 9 p.m. that it did not look good for the party. Speculation was that Green Party votes had mostly gone to the NDP, with no candidate in the riding this election.

“Somebody give her a glass of wine,” remarked one Ashlie supporter.

READ ALSO: ELECTION 2020: Live blog from B.C. party headquarters

The only joy at Fraserview Community Hall was from a toddler – Ashlie’s youngest grandson.

“Definitely disappointed, because I fundamentally, firmly believe the NDP is going to put our province in just a terrible state, but for some reason, the BC Liberals appeared to not show up,” said Ashlie.

“The people have spoken, and so we have to move the next four years forward under an NDP government,” she said, adding the Liberals could “dig them out” in four years.”

“My team was positive. We ran such a good campaign… there was nothing we could have done more than what we did.”

Ashlie won five elections for school board or Maple Ridge city council without a loss.

“If I had been the only one in the province for the BC Liberals that didn’t nail their riding I would have felt probably worse than what I feel right now, but I just really think it wasn’t the time for the BC Liberals.”

She said the NDP’s snap election strategy paid off.

“They staged this to win it, and they played their cards and it worked for them.”

The riding has swung back and forth between the Liberals to New Democrats. In 2017, Beare, who was then a school trustee, managed to defeat Liberal incumbent Doug Bing.

This election Beare, who served in cabinet as minister of tourism, arts and culture, faced Bing’s former constituency assistant in Ashlie.

READ ALSO: Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows candidates reflect on COVID-era election and community

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., when those mail-in ballots are counted. A total of 9,018 number of mail-in ballots were requested by Elections BC within the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows riding. There are 45,095 registered voters in the riding.

Across B.C., a total of 478,900 mail-in ballots were returned to Election BC, as of Thursday, Oct. 22. That was about 66 per cent of ballot packages issued. Voters have until Oct. 24 to return their packages.

There are roughly 3.5 million registered voters in the province.

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Cheryl Ashlie talks with a Liberal supporter on election night, with her grandson in her arms. (Neil Corbett/The News)

Cheryl Ashlie talks with a Liberal supporter on election night, with her grandson in her arms. (Neil Corbett/The News)