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Campbell and cabinet win third term

VANCOUVER – Premier Gordon Campbell and his entire B.C. Liberal Party cabinet have been re-elected, giving the Vancouver native who led the centre-right party from opposition to government an historic third term in office.

The Liberals had won 45 seats to the NDP’s 32 as of 11 p.m., with an additional eight ridings remaining too close to call. Among those re-elected were John van Dongen, the solicitor general who resigned in the wake of several speeding tickets, John Les, the former solicitor general who resigned over suspicious land deal, and Attorney General Wally Oppal, who ducked questions about the BC Rail sale controversy throughout the campaign.

Campbell bound triumphantly up the stairs of the gleaming new Vancouver Convention Centre – itself a controversial legacy of his party’s profligate spending in advance of the 2010 Winter Games – and pressed through an adoring crowd waiting in a glass-walled conference room. The lights of the North Shore were visible from the stage where Campbell delivered an upbeat 12-minute speech.

Campbell began his comments by reaching out to New Democrats and Green Party supporters.

“We have to work together to solve the challenges that are in front of us,” he said. “It is critically important for us to find a way to listen to one another and learn from one another.”

Of his government’s controversial carbon tax – which was opposed by the NDP, but vocally supported by prominent environmentalists and even a former NDP premier – Campbell pointed to his reelection as proof that the measure is politically viable.

“British Columbians can be proud because we decided to take steps people said we shouldn’t take. They weren’t politically easy to take. But they were the right steps to take,” he said.

Campbell also mentioned his party’s ongoing attempt to reach out to First Nations, then turned to the economy at the heart of his short speech. As he did throughout this campaign, Campbell painted himself as the best leader to guide the province through tough economic times.

The speech was briefly upstaged by his infant grandson Jimmy, who yawned noticeably as the Premier spoke. Campbell feigned hurt, and asked, “Why tonight Jim? Why tonight?”

Monte Paulsen reports for The Tyee.

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