Expect this election night, like everything else during pandemic 2020, to be kind of weird.
It’s B.C.’s 42nd provincial election. Personally, I’ve covered eight of them, including this one, and in truth I’m totally curious, if not outright baffled, by how tonight’s spectacle might unfold.
I’ve never been one to predict the outcomes of elections. But this I will predict, albeit with considered reservation given these are uncharted waters.
It’s reasonable to expect there will be no bustling banquet halls. No steamy buffets with gleaming trays. No lots plugged with cars parked willy-nilly outside sweaty party events.
There’ll be no crushing indoor crowds listening, as the Wide World of Sports used to put it, to speeches baring the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.
No podiums, no microphones – except maybe tiny ones mounted in laptop computers.
What else can we expect? Elections BC says primary results should be in tonight but all those oodles of mail-in ballots won’t be counted until Nov. 6.
So we’ll see.
If there are any landslide victories established tonight, snot and tears will likely flow privately in living rooms, in kitchens, and in sparsely-occupied campaign offices – not in front of flashing cameras and shouting adulates.
That said, it also requires no big stretch of the imagination to assume there will, despite the pandemic, be gatherings of social distance-snubbing supporters huddling outside select campaign offices. Like those Canucks fans who gathered en masse at 72nd Avenue and Scott Road, these will be drawn out like moths to a flame.
In the week leading up to the election, we asked candidates where they’d be holding fort tonight. The response was not unexpected. Neil Singh, campaign manager for Liberal candidate Gulzar Cheema in Surrey-Panorama, mused that it “might not even look like there’ll be an election night, you know?”
Cheema said it would be “a disaster” for his party’s nine candidates in Surrey to get together, with all their supporters, under one roof. “It’s just so difficult in terms of having gatherings, right. You can’t do it. We’re reaching out through social media, and we’re trying our best.”
Harry Bains, incumbent and NDP candidate for Surrey-Newton, predicts no gatherings – at least how it usually goes on election night – will be anywhere in Surrey.
“I think it’s going to be a lot of virtual stuff, right. I don’t know whether there’s going to be any one-place gathering, or any gathering at all. I think we’ve got to be very, very careful how we can follow these safety protocols.”
Jinny Sims, incumbent NDP candidate for Surrey-Panorama, expects “people will be in their own bubbles.”
It appears Bruce Ralston’s bubble will be small indeed. “No victory celebrations, no gatherings, no nothing,” the incumbent and NDP candidate for Surrey-Whalley told me. “I’ll just be on my phone, probably, I don’t know, maybe at home, on maybe Zoom or something, I don’t know. You can’t really have a central thing because you’ve got the 50-person limit. So what do you do?”
It certainly will be different. Still, what happens in Surrey tonight is no less important. Of the province’s 3,485,858 registered voters, 356,896 live in this city. That’s some political clout Surrey wields in Victoria.
Our dedicated news team will do our best to help you sort out what will undoubtedly be a strange political journey tonight and in the days, if not weeks, to come.
Let’s enjoy the ride together.